Last week on dghealth Kate Granger told the story behind her #hellomynameis campaign and on Tuesday 23rd June NHS D&G were delighted to welcome her to the Easterbrook Hall where she spoke to over 150 healthcare professionals.
Kate, and her husband Chris Pointon, had embarked on a two week whirlwind tour of 15 healthcare organisations around the UK to promote their campaign. We are really privileged as Dumfries was their only stop in Scotland and early on in her presentation Kate explained why. As part of her clinical attachments at medical school in Edinburgh she spent four weeks in Dumfries working with Dr Ian Hay in Elderly Care medicine. She had such a good time, and was so inspired by Ian, that she chose to specialise in Elderly Care and is now a Consultant in Yorkshire.
It is difficult to find the words to describe how humbling it was to hear Kate tell her story. She is very matter of fact about her diagnosis of terminal cancer, her journey through chemotherapy and the complications that ensued…and her prognosis. The power of a clinician seeing care “from the other side” cannot be underestimated.
On one occasion, after a change of ureteric stents, Kate became unwell with a fever and had to be admitted to hospital. A nurse took her history in the emergency department, as did a young doctor and another nurse administered antibiotics. She is unable to tell us their names as they never told her. In fact the nurse who gave the antibiotics didn’t even check her name band or allergy status before plugging her into a drip and starting them running – all the time talking to another colleague.
However she did remember Brian’s name. Brian was the porter who took her from the ED to the ward. He introduced himself, asked her how she was, recognised she was in pain and ensured that he pushed her bed slowly over all the bumps as to minimise her discomfort. In short he was kind. He cared. Unfortunately there were other examples of poor introductions and she found herself ‘Emotionally Reflecting’ (or as Chris pointed out ‘Whinging’) about this and decided to do something – hence #hellomynameis.
This is about more than just an introduction. It’s about effective, skilled and compassionate communication. It’s about the little things, a smile, a hand on hers, the offer of a drink. It’s about true person centred care and seeing every patient as an individual, a person. ’See me’ as Kate puts it. If when you enter a patients room you lower yourself to their level and introduce yourself with a smile then your conversation will follow a different tack than if you stand towering over them eulogising to the entourage of nameless followers at the end of the bed.
Kate is now an MBE. She has met numerous politicians (all rather keen to jump on the bandwagon!!) and celebrities and the #hellomynameis brand is now truly global. Hospitals in many countries including the USA, Australia, Italy and Sierra Leone have embraced it. The latter example is extremely powerful as, during the Ebola outbreak when clinicians were forced to be completely sealed in protective clothing, #hellomynameis stickers could be put on the visors of helmets so that patients would know the name of the doctor or nurse caring for them.
Kate’s talk was inspirational. The courage she and her husband demonstrate in touring the country telling her story time and time again is breathtaking. I know I can speak on behalf of everyone who made it to the Easterbrook by saying how proud we all were to have met Kate and Chris. While Hazel Borland and I waited for her to arrive we both confessed to some nerves at meeting this celebrity. We told Kate this and she responded “but I’m not a celebrity, I’m just a normal Yorkshire lass” and this was what came over throughout her visit. Despite everything she has been through, and all she has achieved, she remains grounded, normal and human.
Kate’s talk was recorded on video and will be available for all to watch soon.