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Grieving family slam Co-op Funeralcare for refusing to dress body of Maidstone man who died after getting Covid-19

The family of a grandfather-of-four who passed away after contracting Covid-19 have called the funeral directors who refused to dress his body over infection fears 'careless' and 'undignified.'

Kenneth Malét, from Maidstone, died on Saturday, January 9 just two days after testing positive for coronavirus.

Kenneth Malet passed away from Covid-19 in January
Kenneth Malet passed away from Covid-19 in January

The 67-year-old had a prepaid silver funeral plan in place with The Co-op Funeralcare worth £3,995.

But when his family went to arrange the send off, his daughter says the branch in Maidstone refused to properly prepare his body as he would have wanted because of concerns over the virus.

Carley Malét, 47, from Madginford, said: "My father was a proud man and he would want to leave this world properly dressed in his own clothes.

"They refused to let us see him due to Covid and they refused to dress him saying he would be buried in what he died in which was just a hospital gown.

"They said it was because of changes to their own policy because of the pandemic and when I found out I was distraught because this is not what he paid for.

Kenneth with wife Jain, son Jordan and grandchildren Jayda and Mia in happier times
Kenneth with wife Jain, son Jordan and grandchildren Jayda and Mia in happier times

"This careless service has caused us so much stress.

"I understand funeral directors are under a lot of pressure at the moment but our loved ones deserve more than this, there needs to be some dignity."

Government guidance states while it is not known exactly how long a body remains infectious, viewings and hygienic preparations such as washing, dressing and embalming are all permitted so long as trained professionals take the necessary precautions such as wearing PPE.

Miss Malét said the situation caused her family so much stress, they opted to cancel the plan and instead used an independent company that was able to carry out her father's wishes.

She added: "We tried to compromise and arrange for someone else to collect my father and deliver him to The Co-op washed and dressed so we could say our goodbyes but they also refused this which was why we changed the plans altogether as we felt dad deserved better."

'We felt dad deserved better...'

With alternative arrangements, the funeral took place on February 6 at Vinters Park Crematorium in Bearsted Road.

Initially the family were told they were not entitled to a refund and would have to pay for, and arrange, any changes themselves.

Then after the funeral had taken place, The Co-op agreed to pay the full redemption value of the funeral plan to the new provider.

Miss Malét said while she is pleased The Co-op eventually came to this decision, her family should never have had to go through this in the first place.

She added: "My dad was so proud he had this funeral plan in place to save us the heartache but it has still caused this trouble and he wouldn't have wanted that.

Kenneth Malet passed away from Covid-19 last month
Kenneth Malet passed away from Covid-19 last month

"I just want people to know there is a way around this, if you want to see a loved one there is no government guidance stopping you.

"In this case it was just The Co-op's own new policy which I feel is undignified."

The Co-op Funeralcare spokesman added: “Supporting bereaved families, protecting clients and colleagues, and ensuring the wishes of loved ones can be met during these unprecedented times are our top priorities.

"Our funeral plans provide assurance and peace of mind.

"Given the unique elements of this situation and the restrictions currently in place to protect our colleagues and bereaved families during the pandemic, we were sadly unable to fulfil all aspects of Mr Malét’s funeral plan.

"In order to honour our commitment to Mr Malét and his family, we arranged for the payment to be transferred so his funeral could be fulfilled via a third-party funeral director, and therefore provide Mr Malét with the send-off he wished for.”

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