NHFA Code of Ethics

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

Purpose Statement
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.

Mission Statement
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.

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Definitions

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 BURIALearth 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 FUNERALa 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 GUIDEtrained 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:

Conduct

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.

Confidentiality

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.

Additional Information

  • 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.