Edinburgh hospice nurse urges people to consider their ‘digital death’

Edinburgh hospice nurse urges people to consider their ‘digital death’

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A nurse from St Columba’s Hospice is today presenting information on how to have a ‘digital death’, at the national conference for health and social care practitioners working in end-of-life care.

Jacklyn Calvard, staff nurse at the independent hospice in Edinburgh, is presenting information at the Hospice UK conference in Liverpool and will be talking to health and social care practitioners from across the UK about the importance of ensuring people can have a ‘digital death’ if they wish to.

In May 2016, the Office for National Statistics reported that 87.9% of the UK population had used the internet in the last three months, and increasingly many people are ‘living online’ using the internet, apps and internet-enabled devices (such as fitness trackers) which log many elements of our daily lives online. Furthermore, this year it was revealed that by 2098 there will be more Facebook accounts held by people who have died than those who are living (Newsweek, March 2016).

The ethos behind the presentation being given by Mrs Calvard is that many people consider what their financial and emotional legacies will be after their death – and that people should also think about their digital legacy.

The research proposes a new biopsychosocial model representing the elements of dying. The current model includes four elements of dying – physical, social, spiritual and emotional – and the proposed model includes an additional element, digital, which encompasses all the other elements. The presentation by Jacklyn Calvard proposes that this new model of the elements of dying should be used by health and social care providers when caring for patients and their families.

Jacklyn Calvard said: “Dying, like living, is multi-dimensional and with so much focus on the physical, social, spiritual and emotional elements of death it is easy to understand how considering your digital legacy can be put to one side. I am proposing that we all think about our digital legacies whilst we are well – we make Wills and think about our financial legacy, and our digital legacy should be considered at the same time. There are so many websites out there that can help with your digital legacy but even something as simple as giving your log-in details to a trusted friend or family member can help them to look after your digital life after you die. I’d like to encourage everyone to think about this, and for health and social care practitioners to bring digital legacy in to the conversations they are having with the people they are caring for.”

The poster presentation prepared by Mrs Calvard is available on the St Columba’s Hospice website at www.stcolumbashospice.org.uk.

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