Funeral code breached

Wairoa’s sole service ‘acted unprofessionally’.

Wairoa’s sole service ‘acted unprofessionally’.

WAIROA funeral director Allan Pickering has been ordered to refund a family 75 percent of his service fee and is under 12 months supervision by the Funeral Directors Association of New Zealand (FDANZ) for breaching their codes of conduct.

The Baty family of Wairoa say it is a closure they have been waiting for — 16 months after the death of their mother.

Dolores Baty, 88, died on October 24, 2014. She had eight children.

Eldest daughter Kitty Turner said their mother had a wonderful life and a beautiful, peaceful death surrounded by those who loved and adored her.

It was what happened next that left them “shocked”.

From the initial phone call through to the cremation, Mrs Turner said she and her family found Allan Pickering Funeral Services unprofessional and lacking in respect for their loss.

In December 2014, they wrote to the FDANZ with 16 issues where they felt Mr Pickering had acted unprofessionally and broken codes of conduct.

Mr Pickering was given the opportunity to respond to these points, and he started by way of an apology.

“I am sorry. I feel embarrassed and regretful that my services provided you with a negative funeral experience,” he wrote.

“I can assure you this was never my intention. I would like to inform you that because of this letter we have implemented several changes to our funeral business operations, which hopefully will lead to a more positive funeral experience for future clients.”

Mr Pickering said he had taken the findings of the review into consideration and reviewed his processes to continue to reflect best practice in delivering funeral services to the families of the district.

In July 2015, the FDANZ upheld the Baty family’s claims and stated the key problem in the case “was around poor communication”.

The findings said that the late Mrs Baty’s dignity was not protected and “care of the deceased and dignity and respect are at the core of funeral service, and must be protected at all times”.

The FDANZ Board recommended 12 months of supervision, additional support to Pickering Funeral Directors and a premises inspection.

FDANZ also recommended a senior funeral director from a neighbouring town assist and provide guidance to help Mr Pickering update his policies and procedures. Mr Pickering is the only funeral director in Wairoa.

The Baty family took the matter further and went to the Disputes Tribunal in October 2015. They did not feel Mr Pickering had provided reasonable care and skill in his services, as required under the Consumer Guarantees Act 1993.

The Disputes Tribunal agreed. Last month Mr Pickering was ordered to refund the family $1575, which was 75 percent of his $2100 professional fees.

A shocking experience

The Wairoa family are relieved to finally have closure on their mother’s death but say the experience was “shocking”.

Mr Pickering has written two letters of apology. He refutes many of the claims made by the Baty family but has also promised to change the way he does things to prevent further incidents happening again.

Issues raised by the Baty family include that Mr Pickering was “jovial” when he arrived to collect their mother’s body, and he offered no condolences. Mr Pickering says the family was having a barbecue and he was merely responding in like to the mood he was met with. The family do not agree.

Mrs Turner and other members of the family asked to accompany their mother’s body to the funeral home.

Mr Pickering never verbally asked if they wished her to be embalmed — the FDANZ code states that there must be consent.

The family would have preferred their mother not to be embalmed.

While Mr Pickering was embalming, a process which can take a few hours, he invited the Baty family to have a cup of tea while they waited, as they did not want to leave their mother.

The kitchen area they were led to was in the cabinet-making area — a business Mr Pickering also operates.

Culturally inappropriate

A casket was in the process of being built. They made their cup of tea but chose to drink it elsewhere because they found it culturally inappropriate to sit beside a casket while having a cup of tea.

Because Mrs Baty had eight children, Mrs Turner said they asked Mr Pickering if he could put two extra handles on the casket, which had six handles, so all the children could carry her into the church.

He said no. They felt his manner was inflexible.

The family say the manner in which their mother’s body was presented to her three daughters for dressing was shocking.

Mr Pickering had no assistant and the family were asked to help move Mrs Baty more than once. Although they did, as it was their mother, Mrs Turner said it was a very distressing experience.

Next came the matter of cremation. Mrs Turner said Mr Pickering rang Evans Funeral Service in Gisborne who operate the Gisborne crematorium, in front of the family and stated he “had one for cremation” and never mentioned their mother by name.

Mrs Turner said he showed a casual and unprofessional approach to their grieving family.

“When we asked if we could collect Mum on the same day, he laughed and said, ‘No, she would still be hot’.”

Mrs Turner said the family were shocked with his blase attitude and lack of professionalism.

Mr Pickering also forgot to place a death notice in the Wairoa Star.

Mrs Turner said when they rang to ask where it was, he replied that he had misplaced the piece of paper, that he would send it in that day and not charge them for it.

But on a hand-written invoice it had been included.

On a typed invoice later, it was not.

Now the family want to carry on and remember the mother they knew and loved in life.

Dolores Dorothy Baty was born in Gisborne in 1926. She had eight children and was the matriarch of a blended Maori and European family.

WAIROA funeral director Allan Pickering has been ordered to refund a family 75 percent of his service fee and is under 12 months supervision by the Funeral Directors Association of New Zealand (FDANZ) for breaching their codes of conduct.

The Baty family of Wairoa say it is a closure they have been waiting for — 16 months after the death of their mother.

Dolores Baty, 88, died on October 24, 2014. She had eight children.

Eldest daughter Kitty Turner said their mother had a wonderful life and a beautiful, peaceful death surrounded by those who loved and adored her.

It was what happened next that left them “shocked”.

From the initial phone call through to the cremation, Mrs Turner said she and her family found Allan Pickering Funeral Services unprofessional and lacking in respect for their loss.

In December 2014, they wrote to the FDANZ with 16 issues where they felt Mr Pickering had acted unprofessionally and broken codes of conduct.

Mr Pickering was given the opportunity to respond to these points, and he started by way of an apology.

“I am sorry. I feel embarrassed and regretful that my services provided you with a negative funeral experience,” he wrote.

“I can assure you this was never my intention. I would like to inform you that because of this letter we have implemented several changes to our funeral business operations, which hopefully will lead to a more positive funeral experience for future clients.”

Mr Pickering said he had taken the findings of the review into consideration and reviewed his processes to continue to reflect best practice in delivering funeral services to the families of the district.

In July 2015, the FDANZ upheld the Baty family’s claims and stated the key problem in the case “was around poor communication”.

The findings said that the late Mrs Baty’s dignity was not protected and “care of the deceased and dignity and respect are at the core of funeral service, and must be protected at all times”.

The FDANZ Board recommended 12 months of supervision, additional support to Pickering Funeral Directors and a premises inspection.

FDANZ also recommended a senior funeral director from a neighbouring town assist and provide guidance to help Mr Pickering update his policies and procedures. Mr Pickering is the only funeral director in Wairoa.

The Baty family took the matter further and went to the Disputes Tribunal in October 2015. They did not feel Mr Pickering had provided reasonable care and skill in his services, as required under the Consumer Guarantees Act 1993.

The Disputes Tribunal agreed. Last month Mr Pickering was ordered to refund the family $1575, which was 75 percent of his $2100 professional fees.

A shocking experience

The Wairoa family are relieved to finally have closure on their mother’s death but say the experience was “shocking”.

Mr Pickering has written two letters of apology. He refutes many of the claims made by the Baty family but has also promised to change the way he does things to prevent further incidents happening again.

Issues raised by the Baty family include that Mr Pickering was “jovial” when he arrived to collect their mother’s body, and he offered no condolences. Mr Pickering says the family was having a barbecue and he was merely responding in like to the mood he was met with. The family do not agree.

Mrs Turner and other members of the family asked to accompany their mother’s body to the funeral home.

Mr Pickering never verbally asked if they wished her to be embalmed — the FDANZ code states that there must be consent.

The family would have preferred their mother not to be embalmed.

While Mr Pickering was embalming, a process which can take a few hours, he invited the Baty family to have a cup of tea while they waited, as they did not want to leave their mother.

The kitchen area they were led to was in the cabinet-making area — a business Mr Pickering also operates.

Culturally inappropriate

A casket was in the process of being built. They made their cup of tea but chose to drink it elsewhere because they found it culturally inappropriate to sit beside a casket while having a cup of tea.

Because Mrs Baty had eight children, Mrs Turner said they asked Mr Pickering if he could put two extra handles on the casket, which had six handles, so all the children could carry her into the church.

He said no. They felt his manner was inflexible.

The family say the manner in which their mother’s body was presented to her three daughters for dressing was shocking.

Mr Pickering had no assistant and the family were asked to help move Mrs Baty more than once. Although they did, as it was their mother, Mrs Turner said it was a very distressing experience.

Next came the matter of cremation. Mrs Turner said Mr Pickering rang Evans Funeral Service in Gisborne who operate the Gisborne crematorium, in front of the family and stated he “had one for cremation” and never mentioned their mother by name.

Mrs Turner said he showed a casual and unprofessional approach to their grieving family.

“When we asked if we could collect Mum on the same day, he laughed and said, ‘No, she would still be hot’.”

Mrs Turner said the family were shocked with his blase attitude and lack of professionalism.

Mr Pickering also forgot to place a death notice in the Wairoa Star.

Mrs Turner said when they rang to ask where it was, he replied that he had misplaced the piece of paper, that he would send it in that day and not charge them for it.

But on a hand-written invoice it had been included.

On a typed invoice later, it was not.

Now the family want to carry on and remember the mother they knew and loved in life.

Dolores Dorothy Baty was born in Gisborne in 1926. She had eight children and was the matriarch of a blended Maori and European family.

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Channelle - 3 years ago
My sincere condolences to Dolores and her whanau.

Ora Sheridan - 3 years ago
Awh that's really sad to hear. I have had lots of dealings with Alan over the years and every one has been positive. I have always found him to be a very sensitive person and his smile has always been a part of who he is.
My sincere condolences to the Baty family in their time of grief.

JACKIE - 3 years ago
I totally agree with the family condolences to you all. It is the very last thing families get to do for their loved ones and such unprofessionalism is intolerable. l'm sure Delores Baty would be very proud of her whanau may she RIP.

Pai - 1 year ago
I am very pleased to hear about this case and congratulate the family in seeking address for the disrespect shown to their mother and selves. This sounds like very unprofessional and culturally inappropriate behaviour at a time when the family grief did not need to be added to.

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