Kate Granger and the lasting legacy of #hellomynameis

Thousands of nurses have championed Kate Granger's simple message of introducing themselves during every patient contact.

Thousands of nurses have championed Kate Granger's simple message of introducing themselves during every patient contact

When Kate Granger died in a hospice on 23 July, aged 34, she left behind a legacy of changing the face of patient care with a simple, yet effective, campaign championed by nurses, doctors and healthcare leaders the world over.

Kate Granger
Kate Granger, centre, launched the #hellomynameis campaign Photo: Barney Newman

Three years ago, while in hospital with a post-operative infection, Dr Granger discussed with her husband the failure of some staff on a ward to introduce themselves to her.

From her hospital bed she launched the #hellomynameis campaign to encourage staff to introduce themselves during every patient contact. 

Social media

Using mainly social media, the campaign has been backed by more than 120 health organisations across the UK, including hospitals, ambulance trusts, universities and clinical commissioning groups, reaching more than 400,000 healthcare professionals.

It has spread beyond health care into other sectors and is being used in Australia, New Zealand, the US and Canada.

Dr Granger, who was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of sarcoma five years ago, at the age of 29, wrote on her blog of her campaign: ‘I have always been a strong believer in getting to know people’s names as part of building good working relationships with both patients and other colleagues.

‘It is the first rung on the ladder to providing compassionate care and, often, getting the simple things right means the more complex things will follow more easily and naturally.’

Campaign pledge

When she launched the campaign, Dr Granger worked for, and was being cared for at, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.  

Head of nursing on the oncology clinical service unit Kate Smith said that the fact Dr Granger, a consultant geriatrician, was being cared for by their team made the campaign particularly pertinent to staff.

About 13,000 staff have taken the campaign's pledge that they will always introduce themselves, and many wear a name badge emblazoned with the campaign message, Ms Smith says.

‘Kate gave us a great insight into how it felt to be on the other side, which is how she described it,' she says.

‘That first contact is crucial to developing a relationship with our patients, and we thought as professionals that we always do that, but in reality it is something not everyone does.

A first step

'We started the campaign for staff to make a pledge to always start a patient contact with the words "Hello, my name is", but really it is about delivering patient-centred, compassionate care, and this is the first step.’

Ms Smith says part of the success of the campaign at the trust has been down to it being embraced at all levels, from chief executive to porters.

Each board meeting starts with every member of staff introducing themselves, to emphasise the belief in the campaign.

‘Nurses have embraced it across the organisation,’ she says. ‘Kate has had a massive impact.’

A lasting legacy

Following Dr Granger's death, NHS leaders, prime minister Theresa May and health secretary Jeremy Hunt paid tribute to the changes she made through her campaigning work.

In January 2014, in a speech on NHS culture change, Mr Hunt highlighted the campaign and its message of the ‘simple but vital courtesy of introducing yourself when meeting a patient for the first time’. In the same month, the campaign’s importance was also recognised in the government’s response to the public inquiry into failures at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.

Among her legacies are the Kate Granger compassionate care awards, set up by NHS England two years ago. There are more than 100 entrants for the third awards, the winners of which will be announced in September.

The team prize in the inaugural awards in 2014 was won by a group of nurses from University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust who care for teenagers and young adults with cancer.

Teenage Cancer Trust lead nurse Nicky Pettitt says that Dr Granger told her the team clinched the award because a patient described how safe they felt under their care.

‘It is hard to measure quality and patient experience in a meaningful way, so winning the award was very helpful,’ Ms Pettitt says.

Humanity and compassion

‘The healthcare system has become a bit dehumanised and the #hellomynameis campaign has put some humanity, care and compassion back.’

Chief nursing officer for England Jane Cummings says that Dr Granger helped people speak openly about dying.

‘Her honesty, courage, grace and determination to share her experiences of living with a terminal illness and dying have enabled many to learn and speak openly about death and, in particular, the need to improve communication and compassionate care,’ she says.

‘The world, the NHS and the health and care system are in a better place because of Kate.’

The spread of #hellomynameis on social media

A tweet sent from a hospital ward 3 years ago was the touch paper for the #hellomynameis campaign that would spread rapidly across social media. Hundreds of nurses, nursing students and other healthcare staff have been photographed holding up placards supporting the campaign. Celebrities, including singer Kylie Minogue, Hollywood actress Drew Barrymore, the cast of Coronation Street and senior political figures such as Nicola Sturgeon have thrown their weight behind it on social media.

The #hellomynameis hashtag, which Dr Granger used for the first time in September 2013, has since been used hundreds of thousands of times, with an average use of six times an hour.

Throughout her illness she wrote in her blog and tweeted with humour, insight and brutal honesty about the impact of her illness and about dying. She tweeted to her 48,000 followers from the hospice where she spent her final days and where she reached her fundraising target of £250,000 for the Yorkshire Cancer Centre.

Power of social media

Nurse and social media specialist Teresa Chinn says that the success of the campaign shows the impressive power of social media. The campaign’s focus on compassionate care meant that it engaged strongly with nurses, she says.

‘It is a very simple, very strong and very genuine message,’ Ms Chinn says.

‘Whatever you do in social media needs to come from a real place, and this clearly did. The work Kate did was phenomenal and through Twitter it just grew and grew. It spoke to healthcare professionals and Kate clearly knew what she was talking about as a doctor. Sometimes when you go into a hospital environment as a healthcare professional you notice so many things and Kate articulated that fantastically well.’

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