The 6th Edition of Care After Death: Registered Nurse Verification of Expected Adult Death (RNVoEAD) Guidance provides a framework for the timely verification of expected adult deaths by experienced (assessed as competent), registered nurses. Contributors include a wide range of senior healthcare professionals.


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About this publication


It is anticipated that local areas will develop their policies based on the guidance, but sensitised to the local area, enabling staff to care appropriately for the deceased, supporting and minimising distress for families and carers at any time of the day, night, or week. This guidance has been developed in line with the person and family centred care recommended in national documents.

This guidance ensures that the death is dealt with:

  • in line with the law and coroner requirements 
  • in a timely, sensitive, and caring manner
  • respecting the dignity, religious and cultural needs of the patient and family members as far as is practicable
  • ensuring the health and safety of others, e.g. from infectious illness including COVID-19, radioactive implants, and implantable devices

A competency assessment tool accompanies this guidance for RNs to demonstrate their practical skills, knowledge and understanding for verifying an expected adult death. RNs already competent in verification of an expected adult death are not expected to repeat the competency assessment, rather to familiarise themselves with the changes within this guidance and adopt the changes into their practice.

This guidance may be used to inform training for other registered healthcare professionals who are regulated by a professional body who, under statutory regulation, are recognised by the Professional Standards Authority.

Guidance in this document includes:

A checklist of procedural actions to undertake, with rationales, following a person’s death.

  • Medical and Nursing responsibilities 
  • Procedure guide
  • Assessment of competence

Supported by

  • Hospice UK
  • National Nurse Consultant Group (Palliative Care)
  • National Association for Hospice at Home
  • Royal College of Nursing
  • Royal College of General Practitioners

Version control

Date Version Reason
4 April 2024 6.0 References to COVID all removed. Role of the Medical Examiner added in (applicable from April 2024).  Paragraph on Non Invasive Ventilation added in.
18 April 2023 5.1

Page 10; Motor / Cerebral Response

After five minutes of continued cardio-respiratory arrest, test for the absence of motor response with the trapezius squeeze or the absence of cerebral activity with supra orbital pressure, which is considered best practice.

To ensure there are no signs of motor or cerebral activity.

Updated in April 2024 by Hospice UK and National Nurse Consultant Group (Palliative Care).

Published by Hospice UK in April 2022.