The champion of compassionate care
Although her life was cut short, the impact Kate had in the healthcare industry to elevate compassionate care will live on. She started a movement, raised hundreds of thousands of pounds, and was awarded an MBE for her services to the NHS.
The majority of healthcare staff we’ve met on this trip have introduced themselves with: “hello my name is,” which is something we didn’t think anything of. Then we noticed name badges with a branded, “hello my name is” on them. We inquired about these badges and this led us to be told about a lady called Kate Granger, who unfortunately is no longer with us, but her impact on the healthcare profession lives on. Kate Granger, a junior physician, first became ill on holiday August 2011 in California when her kidneys failed. She was 29 at the time and after returning home for further tests she was hit with the devastating news that she had a rare form of cancer called a desmoplastic small-round-cell tumor of which there was no cure. Kate was determined that cancer wouldn’t stop her from working and she returned to work in January 2012. Her life expectancy was 14 months, but she lived on for nearly five years and in those five years she achieved more than some do in a lifetime.
Following her diagnosis she compiled a bucket list, incorporating among others one amazing challenge, which was to raise £250,000 for her local cancer center. Kate, along with her husband Chris, drove the campaign with great endeavor and they eventually achieved the target just days before Kate passed away in 2016. She also got a tattoo, renewed her wedding vows, appeared on Coronation Street, did a sky dive, wrote a blog to chart her battle with cancer, published two books and took to Twitter to campaign for compassionate care.
It was through Twitter that the “hello my name is” campaign really ignited. Kate wasn’t happy about the lack of introductions she’d had from physicians during her care, especially one from a junior physician who, with no introduction, no eye contact, no compassion, delivered the staggering news, “Your cancer has spread.” The physician left the room as quickly as he entered, leaving Kate in deep distress. After voicing her concerns with Chris, he suggested that they did something about it. Kate decided to begin a campaign and after one tweet with the hashtag #hellomynameis the movement was born. She sent Chris home to design the logo and the hashtag quickly caught on.
Within two years it had the support of more than 400,000 physician, nurses, therapists, receptionists and porters across more than 90 organizations. It also won the support of politicians and celebrities, including Prime Minister Theresa May, Richard Branson, Kylie Minogue and Drew Barrymore. It continues to grow and is starting to embed itself as best practice.
This campaign inspired a plethora of discussions concerning compassionate care and in 2014 NHS England launched the prestigious ‘Kate Granger Awards for Compassionate Care’. The awards have continued every year to date finding and awarding heroes within the NHS. Further recognition for Kate’s work came in 2015 when she was awarded an MBE for her services to the NHS and improving care. Then again in 2016 she received a special achievement award from the BMJ, honouring her for her work on the “hello my name is” campaign.
Kate passed away on her wedding anniversary, Saturday 23rd July 2016. Her husband Chris Pointon announced her death on social media, saying that his beloved and brave 34-year-old wife died on Saturday, “Peacefully, surrounded by loved ones”. Throughout the treatment, which must have been an incredibly difficult time, her blog gave us an insight into her honest and optimistic outlook on life. One of her last blog posts at Christmas time said, “This time of year often leads us to reflect on the year that has just past. For me: 4 cycles of chemo, a national launch of #hellomynameis, an MBE, an Honorary Doctorate, a UK wide campaign tour, a trip to California, a CCT and a new job. Not a bad year really…” Her honesty about her battles with cancer through the blog and her books have helped patients and physicians worldwide. The £250,000+ raised has helped in the fight against cancer. The “hello my name is” campaign continues to grow and although we didn’t get a chance to meet Kate in person, her positive influence can be felt far and wide and her vision on compassionate care is delivered daily by an army of incredible staff working in healthcare.