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Covid-19: Support group call for an end to the use of term ‘next of kin’ May 5, 2020

Covid-19: Support group call for an end to the use of term ‘next of kin’

Misunderstanding over phrase which has no legal standing and is an emergency contact

The Irish Times, Colm Keena, 4th May 2020

The misunderstood term “next of kin” should cease being used in a health and social care setting, especially in the context of the Covid-19 crisis, according to a patient support group.

Sage Advocacy, a support and advocacy service for vulnerable adults, older people and healthcare patients, said people should be encouraged to designate who they want as emergency and healthcare contacts, but that the misunderstood term next of kin, should not be used.

Many people believe that being nominated as a “next of kin” confers an increased role for that person in terms of healthcare decisions, or even a patient’s assets, whereas really all it means is that the person is a point of contact, said Mervyn Taylor, executive director of Sage.

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