As the demands of families change and evolve over time, the industry adjusts and takes on new shapes to fit newly formed molds. The funeral industry does not look anything like it did 50 years ago, and the processes used surely aren’t the same. When it comes to embalming and preparation, today’s industry has seen some rapid changes over the past few years. Whether it’s being more conscious of the impact chemicals have on bodies and the environment, paying closer attention to documentation of the bodies, dealing with delays due to organ donation, or just the fact that people are living longer and advanced medical treatments and medications can make embalming more difficult, embalming and preparation has seen some major changes.

“There are many more challenges facing the embalmer today that were not present in the past. There is often times a delay between the time of death and embalming taking place, due to families waiting to make a decision regarding final disposition, delay as a result of possible tissue and organ donation. Some of the other issues are people are living longer, new and advanced medical treatments and medications that all can create a difficult embalming. Now more than ever, there is a need for a complete case analysis on every case that comes into the preparation room. The professional embalmer must realize that there is not one fluid or procedure that will work on every case. Embalming is not cookie cutter every time. Speed is not as important as making sure the embalming is complete and done correctly on every case,” explains Dana Goodell, Director of Sales of The Embalmers Supply Company.

Today, more and more embalming rooms are equipped with overhead lifts which allow a single person to move and casket larger bodies without the help of other staff members and reduce the risk of injury due to lifting. Additionally, the industry has become more aware of the dangers associated with the chemicals used.

“Specific to the preparation room I would say it would be safety! Funeral home owners need to make sure that everyone in the prep room has been properly trained on PPE and lifting and that they are using the tools provided to keep them safe. The other big safety issue that everyone should take seriously is ventilation – the biggest preventable risk is formaldehyde exposure and with proper ventilation and PPE the risk of exposure is very limited,” says Lance Ray, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of Pierce Chemical.

Studies show that more and more graduates of funeral service colleges enter the profession from outside the family structure.

“Many new graduates make comments to us such as, ‘The first thing I want is a state-of-the-art prep room. The rest will follow.’ The new practitioner expects to work in an environment that has health and safety as a top priority. Strongly trending are air quality and the overall reduction of airborne toxins, ease of use, improved sanitation, good lighting and low maintenance cleanup. Funeral Directors are becoming aware that modernizing the care center offers many benefits, not only to health and safety but to staff satisfaction and the bottom line as well,” states Duncan Todd, President of Duncan Stuart Todd.

The request or necessity for traditional embalming can be decreasing as the rate of cremation, especially direct cremation, increases. However, quick viewings prior to cremation, without traditional embalming, accentuate the need for disinfection and restoration.

“Furthermore, families that pay extra for the viewing service now have higher expectations from the embalmer, meaning a pleasant look on the deceased face with more natural coloring and feel to the skin. It is more important than ever that funeral directors ensure their embalmers, or they themselves, are embalming to a higher technical standard and using the products able to ensure the results the family expects,” Brian Yeazel, President and CEO of Frigid Fluid Co. goes on to say. FBA

Learn more about industry trends and get industry information and advice from top embalming & preparation companies for 2017 in this feature editorial.

Although there have always been exceptions, historically it was not common practice for funeral home owners to consider the preparation room in business model development, but times have definitely changed.

“The room was often hidden away. As a consequence, embalming rooms had the potential to be neglected, under-funded and largely lost in the bigger picture. Fast forward to today’s reality with far more family involvement in arrangements and one finds ample evidence that the image of the embalming room requires greater focus. Families are asking questions from a new and more informed perspective while considering more providers and more options. They are walking more facilities, both physically and virtually and questioning how their loved ones will be cared for throughout all services offered. To address these developments many funeral homes are modernizing their care centers, while facilities with older, outdated prep rooms will likely suffer a competitive disadvantage. There is little doubt that in 2017 and beyond the most successful funeral homes will be equipped with modern, code compliant prep rooms that reflect the pride, dedication and mission of their organizations thereby providing families with the highest possible level of confidence when selecting a firm to honor their loved one,” explains Duncan Todd.

“With health and safety being a top priority, prep room equipment must address OSHA air quality, minimize airborne toxins, provide ease of use within the work place and offer high levels of sanitation throughout the equipment line. As a result DST has developed the only OSHA compliant air system specifically packaged for prep rooms, eliminated the use of open bowl table drains, focused on hands-free product offerings and sourced sanitary and low maintenance products from floor to ceiling. A new or remodeled DST preparation room is more affordable than sometimes perceived. While it is true a DST room is the best in design and features, it is no more expensive than any other room in build-out cost. Studies show a DST room can pay for itself within 100-200 cases,” Todd continues.

DST offers a range of products from a single box glove holder to a fully equipped room including not only OSHA air and embalming stations but flooring, paint, wall protection, coolers, mortuary lifts and tables. Our Premier Source design service provides the highest level of expertise in the industry at a fraction of the cost of any qualified alternative approach. Our Premier Source service is complete including architectural design and layout, products, mechanical specifications, color selections, consultation throughout the project including counselling the general contractor and/or sub-contractors, providing technical manuals, conducting a new room startup conference and more, all from a single source and at a single low fee,” Todd states proudly.
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Now more than ever there is a need for a complete case analysis on every case that comes into the preparation room.

“The professional embalmer must realize that there is not one fluid or procedure that will work on every case. Embalming is not cookie cutter every time. Speed is not as important as making sure the embalming is complete and done correctly on every case,” explains Dana Goodell, Director of Sales of The Embalmers Supply Company.

With continuing development and research, fluid companies have improved products available for funeral homes. The introduction of lanolin fluids, the development of improved fluid compositions that allow deeper penetration and complete embalming.

“One of the most basic things that need to be remembered is to make sure of adequate and complete documentation and identification on every person that enters the funeral home. Identification tags on every case. Making sure that permission has been granted to proceed with embalming. Embalming reports are required in some states currently and it is the only real measure of defense one could have if a legal issue would arise,” Dana continues.

The Embalmers Supply Company offers a wide range of products that can enhance the results for the professional embalmer of today. They also produce the Porti-Boy embalming machine that has been the recognized standard for embalming machines for many years. ESC provides technical assistance 24/7 365 days a year for consultation regarding embalming procedures and also offers education in the use of products to insure complete satisfaction.

“Since 1886, The Embalmers Supply Company has been a family owned business that has led the industry in production and distribution of embalming products. We introduced in 1959 the triple based solutions which continue today to be proven to be the most effective products on the market. In 1975 we began and continue today the manufacturing of the Porti-Boy Embalming Machine, We also introduced the first safety cap on fluid bottles in 1982, which we continue to use today on every chemical we produce. The use of triple based products actually allow the usage of LESS chemicals to completely disinfect, sanitize and preserve all tissues of a body,” Dana explains.

In order to insure quality products are provided every time The Embalmers Supply Company manufactures their own products in their own production facility in East Lyme, CT every day. ESC never outsources any of their fluids to others for manufacture. ESC also offers many triple based products which will actually require less product to insure a complete quality embalming every time.

“We preach use less product, not more,” Dana states emphatically.

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Practitioner safety with respect to fumes from formaldehyde and other irritant chemicals involved in embalming has moved forward as a concern in recent years. Better ventilation and exhaust of fumes, plus protection against skin contact, have grown in importance both in established prep rooms and particularly in the design of new facilities.

“Frigid Fluid supplies a wide range of arterial, cavity and pre-/co-injection embalming fluids to meet the technical needs of the body and aesthetic preferences of the embalmer. In addition, Frigid provides the embalmer with a broad selection of supplemental creams, soaps, disinfectants, tissue treatments, sealants and other sundries, tools and equipment for the prep room. Frigid Fluid developed the use of Silicone Technology in its “SILITECH” trademarked Arterial Fluids. The SILITECH line of fluids has seen huge growth in popularity that we attribute to embalmers and funeral directors recognizing the competitive advantage that a well embalmed body brings to their services and reputation,” states Brian Yeazel, President and CEO of Frigid Fluid Co.

Frigid Fluid has been a manufacturer of embalming fluids since 1892, with the 5th generation of the family fully dedicated in its day-to-day operations.

“To maintain standards of the highest, Frigid manufactures and bottles its embalming products in-house at its Chicago area location. High standards also apply to service. Frigid does not answer their phones with a machine; callers reach a live person who is well informed on Frigid products and solutions. Also, our customer service personnel are fluent in both English and Spanish to better serve both our domestic clients and our clients in Latin America,” Brian says proudly.

Modern medical care and hospice have introduced a vast array of medications, drugs, chemotherapy and other substances that have almost eliminated the “normal” body with which embalmers typically dealt.

“Embalmers today must deal with results of treatment that include excessive edema, severe dehydration, protein breakdown and other factors. Embalmers are also concerned how these chemicals and substances in the body of the deceased react with the ingredients in embalming fluids. While the fundamental biological nature of the body on which they are working might have changed significantly from not many years ago due to the introduction of these foreign substances, embalmers expect their final cosmetic results to remain unchanged,” explains Brian.
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Pierce Chemical offers numerous products to help funeral homes but their recently-introduced PMRC line of cosmetics that was developed by two top Hollywood make-up artists is truly a game-changer.

“This new type of cosmetics allows us to get away from airbrush systems that are difficult to clean and sometimes challenging to master the technique to achieve great results. Hollywood make-up artists moved away from airbrush systems ten years ago and most are using a cosmetic kit like the one we offer at Pierce. These are dry cosmetics activated with an activator that return to a dry state that will not rub off, which means you don’t have to worry about a family member who might touch the make-up and mess up the basic cosmetics or the more advanced restorative art work an embalmer might have spent several hours on,” explains Lance Ray, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of Pierce Chemical.

Pierce oil-based fluids are infused with a blend of special oils and waxes that allow for a controlled firming process, prevents dehydration, and gives the body a more life-like color and feel.

“I always tell people that have never used Pierce that our fluid is different than any fluid they have ever tried and once they get used to the controlled firming action, they will never want to go back to fast-firming fluids. It’s hard to explain until you try it and see for yourself how it makes a difference. We are different by design. We truly believe that no other embalming fluid is designed to work the way our embalming fluid works,” Ray continues.

Pierce Chemical is a company of embalmers for embalmers.

“As the COO and Executive Vice President of Pierce, I am proud to be an embalmer myself and so are many of our sales representatives. We believe it is important to understand and meet the customers’ needs. We also test the products ourselves before putting them on our customers’ shelves. My office is steps away from our embalming fluid production line and I feel that gives me better quality control over what goes out to customers every day. I am also proud to say that our average employee tenure is 18+ years and both my Production Manager and Office Manager have been with Pierce for more than 30 years,” states Ray.

Pierce offers new prospective customers a mix-pack of fluid called the Pierce Proof Pack (P3). This allows interested clients to sample some of their best fluids before switching to Pierce so they can see how truly different Pierce fluids are for embalmers.
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