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The Opioid Crisis and Workplace Safety

Posted By Paul Harris, Thursday, September 14, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, September 13, 2017
The Opioid Crisis

 

Opioid abuse is not only causing an alarming number of deaths among users, but its effects also now stretch to those who simply come into contact with the drugs. This has led to a nationwide effort by public safety agencies to revise policies and procedures to minimize the risk of exposure to these very powerful drugs.

The Risk

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fentanyl is a synthetic drug 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine and heroin. Fentanyl acts quickly to depress central nervous system and respiratory function. Exposure to just a quarter of a milligram may be fatal – and some of its analogs are even stronger at even smaller doses. In September 2016, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency issued a critical statement to the public and law enforcement personnel warning of serious effects after unintended contact with carfentanil which causes major effects at just one microgram.

A recent White House Commission study found over 100 Americans die each day from opioid-related overdoses. US Department of Health and Human Services reports the greatest numbers of deaths occur in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, and Colorado.

For the Employer

Death care professionals know of Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) specific workplace safety standards for bloodborne pathogens and hazardous chemicals. Although opioid exposure poses a serious health risk, OSHA does not currently have an opioid exposure standard. However, under the OSHA's General Duty Clause, an employer aware of the risks of exposure to opioids who doesn't provide training could be cited in the event an employee is exposed and requires medical treatment. This article is not a substitute for actual training, rather to provide some guidance based on recommendations to law enforcement and emergency medical service (EMS) personnel.

Hazard Assessment

To address this safety challenge, follow the same process used for other workplace hazards. First, perform a hazard assessment (or include it in your annual workplace hazard assessment) to identify the tasks that expose or may expose employees to the drugs. For example, assessing the remains and surroundings before transfer to a stretcher, searching pockets for material before moving the remains, removing and storing the deceased's clothing and personal effects, etc. The assessment should also include personal protective equipment (PPE) best suited to protect workers against unintended exposure.

Exposure Control Plan

After the assessment, create an exposure control plan. This includes developing the work practice controls such as policies and procedures when employees know or suspect the drugs are present on or near the remains. The exposure control plan must also include a training program. Training will include the hazard assessment, all written procedures for minimizing exposure, use of proper personal protective equipment (PPE), recognizing effects of the drugs, and procedures for obtaining medical assistance in the event of exposure.

Of course, not all unidentified substances found on or near human remains will be an opioid drug or even dangerous. Unfortunately, it is difficult to determine the risk of an unidentified substance by sight. Thus all material should be considered hazardous until identified. When unidentified material is suspected to be an opioid, or is an employee exhibits symptoms of exposure, notify the local law enforcement agency immediately. Given recent advisories to law enforcement and EMS agencies, this may result in a hazmat treatment for the material, especially if staff develop signs of exposure at the funeral home/crematory.

The signs and symptoms of opioid exposure will depend on the purity, amount, and route of administration. The onset of symptoms can range from immediate to being delayed by minutes, hours, or even days. Watch for:

  • Altered Level of Consciousness: Excessive drowsiness; difficulty thinking, speaking or walking; confusion; lack of response to pain or someone’s voice; coma; seizures; pinpoint pupils.
  • Breathing: Trouble breathing – may sound like snoring; slow shallow breathing; blue lips and fingernails; respiratory arrest.
  • Altered Vital Signs: Slowed heart rate; low blood pressure; dizziness; cold, clammy skin.
  • Airway: Choking or vomiting.

For the Employee

Observing standard operating procedures in every case ensures the safety of you, your colleagues, and your loved ones. Contribute to a safe and healthy work environment by wearing necessary PPE, participating in risk assessment and planning, and notifying your superior of any signs of non-compliance or exposure. Keep yourself informed about the potential for contamination—reading this article is a great start!—and stay alert for dangerous situations.

This article is not a substitute for actual training, rather to provide some guidance based on recommendations to law enforcement and emergency medical service personnel.

CDC Guidelines

The CDC issued guidelines to protect law enforcement and EMS personnel from exposure to fentanyl or any drug in the opioid classification. Recommended personal protective equipment: respiratory protection, gloves, eye protection, coveralls, shoe covers, and protective sleeves.

Complete information may be found at the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/fentanyl

Industry Partners’ Resources

For more information on this and related topics connected to the opioid crisis, take a look at:

Members can read the full article in Vol. 53, No. 3 Issue of The Cremationist.


Paul Harris

Paul Harris is President and Compliance Director of Regulatory Support Services, Inc., a company founded in 1994 and specializing in regulatory compliance consultation to the death care profession. He holds a North Carolina Funeral Service license and prior to joining the company was the Executive Director of the North Carolina Board of Funeral Service from 2004 until early 2012. Additionally, Paul served as the OSHA compliance officer for a large North Carolina-based funeral home and has eighteen years of first-hand knowledge of regulatory compliance issues.

CANA members receive a 10% discount on annual contract for OSHA and other training, services, and guidance with Regulatory Support Services.

Not a member? Consider joining your business to access tools, techniques, statistics, and advice to help you understand how to grow the range of services and products you can offer, ensuring your business is a good fit for every member of your community – only $470!

Tags:  processes and procedures  safety  tips and tools 

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Get Ready for the 99th CANA Convention!

Posted By CANA Staff, Wednesday, August 9, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, August 9, 2017
Get Ready for the 99th CANA Convention!

 

Next week is CANA's 99th Annual Cremation Innovation Convention and we plan to take New York by storm! Here are a few tips so you can be ready to join us in the City that Never Sleeps:

Step 1.) Pack Right

CANA events are business casual so you can feel professional but comfortable networking with industry peers all day. And bring layers – your cardigan, blazer, or sweater – just in case!

Step 2.) Download the CANA Events App

Get Ready for the 99th CANA Convention!The new CANA Events app is available on the iPhone and Android to guide you through the event (check your email for login instructions). Track your CE with ease, get push notifications about upcoming sessions, give instant feedback about the event, and have exhibitor and speaker information at your fingertips.

Step 3.) Prepare to Network

Come ready to get answers to your business questions. 1.) Download speakers’ handouts from the app, read over their bios, and think about what you want to learn from their sessions. 2.) Review the exhibitor list and make a plan for who you want to meet – you never know who will have a solution to a problem you never thought of. and, 3.) Be ready to socialize! This event is for people who strive to learn more about the business of cremation and how to maximize its opportunities. Attendees will come from all over the world with ideas and experiences to share so get ready to join the conversation.

And, of course, don’t forget your convention essentials: business cards, pen, notepad, and smartphone (because we know business never stops just because you’re not there!).

Step 4.) Make the most of New York

Come on, it’s New York City! Take a bite out of the Big Apple.

Step 5.) Follow us at #CANA17

To keep up with the Convention fun, follow #CANA17 on Facebook and Twitter and join the conversation!

And follow The Cremation Logs – we’ll provide some Convention insights when we get back so you won’t miss some of the most inspiring takeaways. Subscribe by logging in to the CANA site and finding the button at the top of the screen.


Can’t join the fun? Then save the date for the Annual Cremation Symposium at Paris Las Vegas February 6-8, 2018 and our 100th Cremation Innovation Convention in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. July 24-27, 2018 and catch up with CANA next year.

Tags:  events  tips and tools 

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Enhanced Statistics Enhance Your Business Success

Posted By Bob Boetticher, Jr., Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Enhanced Statistics Enhance Your Business Success

 

CANA is well respected for a lot of things, but, hands down, one of the most valuable assets produced by the association is CANA's Annual Cremation Statistic Report. For the past five years, I’ve been privileged to work as a member of CANA’s statistics committee, and I’ve always seen it as an amazingly powerful tool for analyzing current and future consumer trends and creating a strategy for building and growing my business.

I'm particularly excited about this year's statistics report. In addition to the usual numbers, the report addresses why cremation has grown at such disparate rates in various regions of the U.S. It examines the influence geography has on the percentage of the population that cremates, constructing a model to describe the growth patterns in detail.

CANA also examines the speed at which cremation rates rise, tracking how the velocity of growth speeds and slows as the numbers climb. Here’s some of what they found:

When the cremation growth rate over time is measured, an interesting pattern develops. It can take decades for the cremation rate to hit 5%—in the U.S. it took nearly 100 years from the legalization of cremation in 1876 for the rate to reach 5% in 1972 —but once it reaches 5%, the growth rate is more predictable.

Once you hit 5%, the cremation growth rate speeds up. CANA lays out a statistical model to describe a particular pattern in the rate of growth, beginning with the "Starting Point" of 5% and ending with a "Plateau Period," once an 80% cremation rate is attained.

The good news here—the BIG takeaway—is that we’re entering a period of great stability as far as business planning.

In other words, when cremation reaches 40% growth, you know that things will be moving really fast. This is the prime time to execute forcefully and decisively so as to diminish any disruption to your business. Knowing what lies ahead, you can avoid the panic or knee-jerk reactions that killed the businesses of so many death care providers in the geographic regions that have already experienced the rapid growth phase.

The third research component models demographic traits that correlate strongly with cremation rates. You can apply this information directly to your business.

… people of all races, genders, and ages choose cremation. Other demographic data demonstrate an interesting pattern with potential implications for your business.
Whether compelled by circumstance or eagerly searching for new opportunity, more and more of the U.S. population has chosen to roam across the country and around the world. Many have loosened their connections to their geographic origins and increased their exposure to new traditions. Conversely, there are significant portions of the population who are rooted to their hometowns and remain deeply connected to the traditions they grew up with.

CANA’s report found various traits associated with these "roaming" or "rooted" segments of the population:

RoamingHigher Cremation Rate
Areas with a high concentration of small businesses and businesses owned by women, less religious affiliation or affiliation with religions other than Christianity, higher incomes, lower home ownership but higher home values, higher education levels achieved on average, more immigrants and populations that speak a language other than English in the home.
RootedLower Cremation Rate
Areas with higher concentration of manufacturing businesses and output, high affiliation with Christianity, lower income, higher home ownership rates but lower home values, lower education rates achieved on average.

You can see how important it is to understand your community demographics. If you know which segments of the community you currently reach, you can hone your message even further. You can also find ways to increase your market share when you identify new segments to target.

Come out to see my statistics presentation at some point in the future. I’d love to show you how you can choose to be profitable. It’s empowering to know that you can use these facts, models, and numbers to make educated choices about how to lead your business.

Want to know more about the way statistics can help you? Join me for my presentation on Using Cremation Statistics to Enhance Business Success for Cemeteries and Funeral Homes at CANA’s upcoming 99th Annual Cremation Innovation in New York City, August 16-18, 2017. Register here to take advantage of this illuminating workshop.


Bob Boetticher, Jr.

Bob Boetticher, Jr., a Past President of CANA, is on the CANA Statistics Committee and presents CANA statistics across North America to show how anyone can transform their business with data. A second-generation funeral director and a Market Director at Service Corporation International, he has over 30 years of industry experience. Bob is a funeral, cemetery, and cremation expert who is dedicated to improving the funeral profession.

For more information, take a look at CANA's Industry Statistics brief. Members can access the full Annual Statistics Report and archives by logging in.

Not a member? Consider joining your business to access tools, techniques, statistics, and advice to help you understand how to grow the range of services and products you can offer, ensuring your business is a good fit for every member of your community – only $470!

Tags:  consumers  statistics  tips and tools 

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Celebrant Training

Posted By CANA Staff, Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Celebrant Training

 

From May 18-20, 2017, CANA staff members were privileged to participate in the InSight Institute’s Celebrant Training presented by Doug Manning and Glenda Stansbury.

As association staff, we're responsible not only for responding to the needs of our members and the industry, but also monitoring the changing winds of consumer preference and practitioner trends and understanding the difference between fads and forward thinking. InSight’s excellent celebrant training spoke to all of these concerns, describing new consumer preferences in an increasingly secular world and illuminating what the role of a funeral director is and can be.

Taking the class with industry professionals allowed us to hear stories about their work with families outside of their crematory operations and their perspective on the role of the funeral director. The thoughtful class lectures, case studies, and the final project assignment challenged preconceived notions of how our members interact with families, what consumers want, and the heart of real service to communities. We've all gained an understanding we did not have before.



Personalization Isn't Product.
I once read an unintentionally humorous article about the right number of accessories to wear based on a codified point system where certain items were worth certain points and you weren't ready to leave the house until you'd scored well. I think we can all see that, while well-intentioned, this method is ridiculous. And, like something as personal as style, you can't codify quality and sell keepsakes and products to add up points and score something as personal as memorialization. It's about knowing your audience—your own style in the case of accessorizing—and listening to a family's wants and needs in end-of-life planning.

The funeral director is the expert in options, but listening and guiding is the next step to making personalization a matter of course. Families can't be coded and assigned urns, keepsakes, and options based on assumptions about their spending, love for the deceased, or style. And it's only when consumers trust that they're being heard without judgment that they will talk and share. From there, the right products, like the right accessories, will come.

Brie Bingham, Membership Coordinator

Watching Doug Manning and Glenda Stansbury present this workshop was a revelation. It was evident that they’ve spent many years thinking about people and grief and a meaningful way to help families and friends work through the deaths of the significant individuals in their lives—and find deeply personalized ways to remember them. Amidst the current revolution in consumer interaction with the death care industry, Doug and Glenda have developed a powerful response that was inspiring to witness. They’ve truly brought the art of listening to a new level and they lay out clear strategies to incorporate listening into interactions with those that seek their assistance.

The wealth of information and the creative and insightful approach shared by these experts has broad applications to the issues we consider as we work to serve CANA’s members and their best interests. CANA’s staff does not include any funeral directors or cremationists, so we benefit from hearing real-world experiences. Such stories helps us to see the through the eyes of the people who belong to CANA.

Sara Corkery, Communications Manager

As the education director, I was excited to participate in Celebrant training to make sure CANA education incorporates best practices and well-rounded perspectives. But I got more than I was expecting. My father died when I was 19. He was cremated and we had a memorial service for him. During the celebrant training, we talked a lot about the importance of a funeral or memorial service in beginning the healing process. As I thought back to my father’s service, I began to appreciate what my step-mother did, instead of resent it. She had taken control of planning my father’s service and what resulted was far different than anything the rest of the family was expecting. In other words, a traditional service. What we attended instead was a highly personalized celebration. Various people told stories about my father that I hadn’t heard before, and we played his favorite music. It was exactly what it should have been, but twenty years ago I didn’t understand that and still didn’t until I attended the celebrant training. And once that understanding took root, I was overcome by a desire to make sure everyone I know gets to experience that kind of funeral or memorial service when they lose someone they love.

At the same time I was experiencing a personal healing, I was also learning a lot about the funeral industry. As someone with no training in funeral service, I was shocked to learn that funeral directors aren’t the ones leading funeral or memorial services, and they aren’t the ones helping families plan them either. It’s usually a clergy person who may or may not know the family or the deceased. That explains why my step-mother did most of the service planning. The concept of a celebrant was almost non-existent in the US in 1996. Now I’m excited whenever I talk to funeral directors who have been through celebrant training or incorporate them into their business models. But I also see a huge missed opportunity for those who have not.

Jennifer Head, Education Director

I'd rather be ignored for $2,000 than $10,000.
I found celebrant training to be a transformative experience. I didn't expect to relive every funeral and grief experience of my life on day one, but that is exactly what happened. At the end of the session I was emotionally drained, but also exhilarated. Doug Manning and Glenda Stansbury provided the language to describe so many of my negative and positive experiences.

In response to a question about the increase in direct cremation, he told an anecdote when he was told, "I paid $10,000 for my father's funeral and my grief was ignored. The funeral director didn't direct anything, just took my order. I'd rather be ignored for $2000."

This story struck me profoundly. I thought about the behaviors of funeral directors that made the most impact on me, such as anticipating my need for a tissue or water, hugging or touching me when I needed comfort and saying my family member or friend's name. I have never been ignored, thankfully, but no one deserves to be ignored.

Barbara Kemmis, Executive Director



InSight

CANA Staff send our warmest thanks to Doug Manning and Glenda Stansbury of the Insight Institute for sharing their passion and professional expertise during the Celebrant Training course. We congratulate our fellow new Certified Celebrants who joined us for this course!

Tags:  celebrants  consumers  services  tips and tools 

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The Framing of a Fiery Controversy: Part 2

Posted By CANA, Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, July 18, 2017
The Framing of a Fiery Controversy: Manufacturers' Recommendations

 

As we discussed in Part One, community backlash over a proposed crematory can be swift and severe. The efforts you go to well in advance of the actual proposal will be well worth the time and effort. And who better to help you navigate this than your crematory manufacturer? Here are just a few of the tips shared by various manufacturers when it comes to being prepared.

FT the Americas believes that education is the key… you need to educate anyone and everyone that may be involved with the project. It needs to be extensive and based on scientific facts, not hearsay. Your opponents will have done their "research," and will likely cite many negative stories and "facts." Your fiercest competitors will be the “not in my backyard” naysayers.

Matthews Environmental Solutions also points out that the NIMBY (not in my backyard) crowd is getting bolder and more vocal, so they suggest starting earlier by developing allies in the community well before you submit any applications. Having these allies, or others who have no vested interest in your business, speaking on your behalf will add a lot of credibility and help offset the complaints of the NIMBY’s.

Cremation Systems advises on doing your due diligence. Knowing whether your zoning board and city council officials are elected or appointed will matter during an election year. Have ready examples of installations in similar environments along with pictures. Research the other local crematoriums and document how long they have been in operation.

The common thread, and thus a critical point, is that talking to anyone and everyone as early as possible is vital. Talk to prospective neighbors of the crematory so you know what kind of objections to expect, or who may end up being an ally. Educate people with accurate cremation content before they discover the "facts," a.k.a. inaccurate data or misinformation, that would hurt your efforts.


Members can read the full article in Vol. 53, No. 1 Issue of The Cremationist.

Not a member? Consider joining your business to access tools, techniques, statistics, and advice to help you understand how to grow the range of services and products you can offer, ensuring your business is a good fit for every member of your community – only $470!

Tags:  manufacturers  public relations  tips and tools 

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