The NHFA Code of Ethics was written as a guide to those who educate families about home funerals. Practices and conduct are discussed and guidelines given for what falls within the scope of a home funeral guide’s capabilities. [Created 7-12, and amended and approved 8-18-12]. Do you have an ethical concern? The NHFA Ethics Committee may be able to help.
NHFA Code of Ethics, Conduct, and Practice
The NHFA recommends standards of practice that inform our members’ personal conduct and provide clear direction in correct and ethical behavior for home funeral guides in service to those choosing family-directed funerals.
The mission of the NHFA is to preserve the innate rights of families and communities to care for their own dead in a personal, respectful and an environmentally sound manner. We do so by creating and sustaining a network of ethical, responsible and knowledgeable home funeral guides, whose primary focus is to educate and empower family members to shape and direct the after death care of their loved one, as supported by state law.
NATIONAL HOME FUNERAL ALLIANCE (NHFA) — a non-profit volunteer organization committed to reconnecting to our heritage, empowering families to care for their own at death.
GREEN OR NATURAL BURIAL — earth burial that includes environmentally sound practices such as locally sourced biodegradable vessels, forgoing toxic embalming practices and concrete or plastic vaults and metal, steel or non-sustainably harvested wood caskets.
HOME FUNERAL — a family or community-centered response to death and after-death care. Families and communities may play a key role in:
- planning and carrying out after-death rituals or ceremonies, such as laying out the deceased and home visitation of the body
- preparing the body for burial or cremation
- filing paperwork, such as the death certificate and burial transit permit
- transporting the deceased to the place of burial or cremation
- facilitating the final disposition, such as digging the grave at a natural burial
Home funerals may occur within the family home or elsewhere, such as nursing homes or hospitals. The emphasis is on encouraging the family to provide care of the body through minimally invasive and environmentally-friendly care practices.
HOME FUNERAL GUIDE — trained individuals who educate and empower families to exercise the innate right of caring for their own dead.
Code of Ethics
Home Funeral Guides:
CE1 treat others with respect, sensitivity, integrity, clarity and calm.
CE2 strive to be fair and objective in their advice and actions, and are not influenced in making decisions or recommendations by virtue of age, color, race, gender, sexual orientation, lifestyle, religion, national origin, marital status, political belief, or mental or physical disability.
CE3 support, advise and educate families, communities, and the public, according to the NHFA Code of Ethics, Conduct and Practice.
CE4 believe after-death care is most meaningful when carried out by family and friends of the deceased. Home funeral guides do not seek to conduct the after-death care themselves.
CE5 volunteer their services when conducting after-death care.
CE6 share the responsibility of maintaining high standards of competence and service in the best interests of the family and the public.
CE7 are aware of the limits and boundaries of their competence and in no way represent themselves as having qualifications beyond those which they possess, or act as a funeral director.
CE8 are sensitive to the diversity of varying populations as well as to changes in cultural expectations and values.
CE9 know and take into account the traditions and practices of other professional groups with which they work and cooperate fully in working for the benefit of families.
CE10 know the possible consequences of acting as a funeral director as defined by local, state and federal laws, which could result in legislation restricting the rights of families, fines, cease and desist orders, or other legal action.
Code of Conduct and Practice
- guidelines for expected specific behaviors while acting as home funeral guides
Home Funeral Guides:
CCP1 educate and empower families and individuals with the knowledge necessary to exercise the right to care for their own dead; educate families as to how to file death-related paperwork, such as the death certificate; educate families as to how to transport their deceased to the place of burial or cremation.
CCP2 maintain high standards of personal conduct and competence in their role of educating families.
CCP3 pursue opportunities for continuing education
CCP4 treat professional colleagues with the same dignity and respect afforded to families.
CCP5 may charge for consultation and educational or instructional services only.
CCP6 neither offer, seek, nor accept payment of any kind for referrals.
CCP7 do not condone or engage in sexual harassment.
CCP8 seek out and maintain affiliations with related supportive organizations and associations, and with other home funeral guides.
CCP9 build and maintain liaison relationships with local funeral directors and with local and state officials, including vital records personnel, medical examiners, coroners and other professionals.
CCP10 maintain familiarity with the operations, procedures and documentation requirements associated with the work of such professionals.
CCP11 know and follow current local, state, and federal laws, policies, ordinances and regulations pertaining to family rights in caring for deceased persons
CCP12 know about and encourage completion of advanced directives, including funeral planning.
CCP13 are aware that information received in confidence shall not be forwarded to another person, business, or agency without the written permission of the next-of-kin, designated agent, and/or durable power of attorney, and that each member of the family or extended group has individual rights to confidentiality.
CCP14 protect the continuing confidentiality of the deceased in accordance with legal requirements, including HIPAA regulations.
CCP15 may disclose information to appropriate third parties (funeral directors, medical staff, clergy) if it is verified that the deceased had a communicable illness.
CCP16 take necessary precautions to ensure confidentiality of information transmitted electronically through the use of a computer, e-mail, fax, telephone, voice mail, answering machines, or any other electronic means.
CCP17 adequately disguise names, descriptors, subjects in images, and other material they use in teaching, meetings, writing, and public speaking in order to preserve anonymity; obtain adequate prior consent.
CCP18 respect the confidences colleagues share with them during the course of their professional relationships.
Public Outreach & Education
CCP19 advocate for family-centered and family-led legal funeral rights.
CCP20 act to ensure that families have access to the resources, services, and opportunities they require to make informed decisions.
CCP21 in making public statements, accurately represent their education, professional qualifications, expertise, affiliations, and functions, as well as those of the institutions or organizations with which the statements may be associated, and clarify whether they speak as individuals or as representatives of the NHFA. All public statements are consistent with this Code of Ethics, Conduct and Practice.
CCP22 engage in activities that maintain and increase the respect, integrity, and knowledge base of the public regarding issues of death and dying. Such activities include but are not limited to teaching, research, advocacy, serving on boards, and membership in related associations.
CCP23 provide learning experiences in educational programs that may include demonstration, instruction, and supervised practice.
CCP24 maintain high standards of scholarship and objectivity, presenting information fully and accurately, and providing appropriate recognition of alternative viewpoints.
Conflict of Interest
CCP25 are aware of conflicts that may arise between their role as consultant, the families they serve, and other professionals.
CCP26 are free to consult with other professionals provided that the consultation does not place the consultant in a position of conflict of interest and providing that all concerns of privacy, informed consent, and confidentiality are met appropriately.
CCP27 avoid conflicts of interest that interfere with discretion and impartial judgment. If a real or potential conflict of interest arises, they take reasonable steps to resolve the issue in a manner that reflects the best interests of the person(s) served.
- The NHFA is not responsible for the actions of individual members or anyone calling himself or herself a home funeral guide. The NHFA suggests families and individuals use caution and/or ask for references when consulting with anyone about death care, and are aware of their vulnerability at the time of a death.
- The NHFA neither promotes nor discourages religious expression, and is in no way affiliated with any organized religious organization.