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If Most Hospitals Use Checklists, Why Don’t Most Death Care Businesses?

Posted by Jim Starks on December 1, 2014

  Many firms refuse to use checklists to avoid the image and perceived impersonality of a large location. But checklists serve a purpose.

  Flight crews, NASCAR teams and hospitals use checklists to ensure precautionary steps are followed. So the question begs to be answered: why don’t all firms utilize checklists?

  Many firms do use a service folder listing biographical information, service information and tasks that need finishing. This form of checklist allows others to see what has been completed and what is left to finish. By reviewing the folder, any employee can see the current situation and whether the arranger needs help.

  But if the firm used a checklist for cleaning the inside of the facility, yard work, taking human remains to the crematory, conducting removals and other daily tasks, it would unify training for new employees, hold all employees accountable and ensure more consistent work.

  It’s human nature to forget things over time. Checklists are a great reminder when memory falters.

  Giving the arranger a checklist to review during the arrangement conference ensures that consumers receive a more consistent service amongst employees and that all consumers are offered available options. This gives the firm a consistent approach to all consumers served, and helps continue word-of-mouth advertising because new consumers will receive the same as those who referred them.

  If a crematory operator used a checklist with the steps required from the time he/she received human remains until they were placed in the chamber for cremation, it would serve as an excellent safeguard from cremating the wrong human remains. Also, if the operator needed to leave or became ill, the person who filled in would be able to easily finish the tasks.

  Checklists are also vital when an employee terminates employment at a firm. If the employee was the sole person in that position, checklists are an excellent source of the tasks required for the position. With a checklist, the new person in that position could step in with a shorter learning curve.

  Firms that want to implement checklists should start off with the major areas they determine could best use a checklist then build the lists with other team members to avoid missing critical steps. Then the checklists should be reviewed semi-annually to determine whether they need modifications. And the checklists should be available to all that perform that job, whether they are on a computer, binder or in a file.

  Importantly, having staff develop checklists can encourage cohesive teamwork. One person will have more knowledge about one area than another, making the checklist meeting an educational process as well.

  By having staff members collaborate on the checklists they will take ownership and see the value of using them. And the more consistently procedures are performed, the less risk the firm has of not completing procedures properly.


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