Kate Granger MD, MBE, Acting Consultant, Elderly Care, Pinderfields Hospital, Yorkshire
The whole idea of the campaign is to remind, encourage and inspire healthcare staff about the importance of introductions in interactions with patients and their families.
Imagine you are unwell...
...you find yourself in an unfamiliar and scary environment. Strangers keep approaching you but barely acknowledge your presence and fail to introduce themselves. Painful tests and treatments are being done to your body. You are unsure what the future holds. Horrible picture isn't it?
What could make that petrifying experience better? What can we as healthcare professionals, do to alleviate those fears our patients face every day? I think it's very simple. Say hello, smile & introduce yourself... Then by starting off on the right footing with a friendly greeting, follow up by asking the person how they would like to be addressed, sit down, listen to them, take a fraction more time and respond appropriately to their distress.
It was almost two years ago when I launched the #hellomynameis campaign. What I describe above was my experience. I was the patient in the hospital on the receiving end. My rare, incurable cancer was diagnosed nearly four years ago. Since then I have been experienced most kinds of healthcare the NHS has to offer; general practice, district nursing care, emergency medicine, gynaecology, urology and oncology inpatient care, palliative medicine input, interventional radiology procedures, surgery, radiotherapy, ambulatory chemotherapy, outpatient clinics and numerous scans.
As a doctor myself I have been a keen observer of my own care. Being ill has made me think long and hard about my own practice and the values that are at my core as both clinician and patient. Those values are great quality communication, that the 'little things' really do make a difference and true person-centred care, acknowledging that all patients are first and foremost people rather than being identifiable by disease or bed number.
I found absent introductions from healthcare staff distressing but conversely when someone did offer a confident, friendly introduction it immediately made me feel more comfortable, less anxious and established a relationship. Being in hospital is a very lonely experience; that sounds strange as you are surrounded by people all day and all night, but the time you can spend with the people that actually matter to you is restricted and interactions with healthcare staff are often very brief.
The idea for the campaign was formed out of a conversation between my husband and me during an evening visiting time. I was moaning about the lack of introductions and Chris encouraged me to "stop whinging and do something." So we did. I wanted a positive response to a negative experience. It seemed natural to harness the extraordinary reach and power of social media and take to Twitter! Chris coined the catchy hashtag #hellomynameis and off we went. I sent the first tweet on 31st August 2013 and to date the campaign has now made over 300 million Twitter impressions.
It became apparent soon after I started tweeting my personal narrative that my experience was not a unique one with hundreds of other patients and carers telling me that this is something that frustrates and distressed them too. This feedback gave even more motivation and determination to try and make a change.
The whole idea of the campaign is to remind, encourage and inspire healthcare staff about the importance of introductions in interactions with patients and their families. We gave the campaign an eye-catching logo and designed a website to collate resources. Very quickly the idea started to spread through healthcare communities across the country then across the world. It is an ingeniously simple idea that costs no money, takes little time but improves the patient experience and can be used as a driver to improve compassionate, person-centred care.
Soon the logo started to appear on name badges, lanyards, pens, at conferences, on wards, outpatient clinics. People started to have selfie campaigns and use the logo on screen-savers and email signatures. The requests to speak at events and write articles began to roll in. Senior members of the NHS such as Simon Stevens, Bruce Keogh and Jane Cummings showed their support. Politicians jumped on the bandwagon with Jeremy Hunt, David Cameron and Nicola Sturgeon all getting involved.
The 2nd February this year marked an important date for the campaign and for me personally. We collaborated with the Listening into Action network (http://www.listeningintoaction.co.uk/joining-up.php ) to have a national launch of the campaign. Over 100 NHS organisations were involved, with a potential reach of nearly 500,000 members of staff. The media were interested and the story was widely reported. I was interviewed on the Today programme followed by Five Live breakfast show. Unfortunately I then had to go to hospital to commence my third course of palliative chemotherapy. Interest in the campaign did not abate though and surreally I found myself speaking to Jeremy Vine while hooked up to my drip. #hellomynameis trended all day in the UK and I was inundated with tweets and photos.
I am determined to keep the momentum going after the national launch. In order to do that Chris and I are taking the campaign on tour in June, visiting 15 organisations over a week. I'm really excited to meet staff and share my narrative to hopefully inspire behaviour change. It's going to be a busy and tiring week but I will find the energy from somewhere.
Legacy is very important to me. I have a shorter life expectancy than most, meaning less time to make my mark on this world. Being a doctor means so much to me, it defines who I am and I am incredibly proud to do the most amazing job. Leaving the NHS with a greater focus on people and compassion would be an amazing legacy, wouldn't it?
Say hello, smile & introduce yourself... Then by starting off on the right footing with a friendly greeting, follow up by asking the person how they would like to be addressed, sit down, listen to them, take a fraction more time and respond appropriately to their distress.