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Edinburgh nurse wants to ensure we all have a good digital death

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An Edinburgh hospice nurse says health and social care professionals should have a bigger role in helping people prepare for their digital death

A nurse from Edinburgh’s St Columba’s Hospice has issued advice on how to have a good digital death.

Speaking at the national conference for health and social care practitioners working in end-of-life care in Liverpool, Jacklyn Calvard said they should be more aware of 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.

Jacklyn Calvard

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

Jacklyn Calvard

This year it was also revealed that by 2098 there will be more Facebook accounts held by people who have died than those who are living.

Calvard proposes a new biopsychosocial model representing the elements of dying. The current model includes four elements of dying, physical, social, spiritual and emotional. The proposed new model includes digital as an additional element, which encompasses all the other elements.

Calvard says health and social care professionals should be using this new model when caring for patients and their families.

She 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.”

 

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