Chris Pointon is a healthcare campaigner and husband of Kate Granger, the geriatrician, author and NHS patient who sadly passed away in July 2016 due to a rare form of incurable cancer. Working alongside Chris, Kate led the #hellomynameis campaign, which drew on her own encounters as a patient following the time in August 2013 she was admitted to hospital and she noticed that many of the staff looking after her didn’t introduce themselves before delivering care. Encouraged by Chris to “stop whinging and do something” after discussing it with him, she did exactly this, and ended up becoming the face of a compassionate care campaign that changed the world.
“…Only I knew exactly what Kate was going through 24/7 and for her to be coping with this alongside working as a doctor (becoming a consultant), playing in an orchestra, travelling the country to talk at conferences, being an amazing wife, seeing the family, promoting #hellomynameis, receiving and giving awards etc. makes me hugely proud and she will continue to inspire me every day for the rest of my life…”
Chris, thank you so much for taking time to speak to us. Please could you tell us a bit about Kate and how you met?
Kate and I met in a nightclub in Huddersfeld on New Year’s Eve 2001. We got engaged New Year’s Eve 2002 and were married in Huddersfield on 23rd July 2005 once Kate finished her studies in Edinburgh. Throughout our courting years I would travel most weekends from Yorkshire up to Edinburgh and I have amazing memories of the city Kate and I spent a lot of time in.
Our wedding was an amazing day full of love and joy – marrying my soul mate was the happiest day of my life. 23rd July also turned out to be the saddest day of my life as Kate passed away on this date in 2016 after 11 amazing years as husband and wife. She truly was and is one in a billion and my soul mate forever.
Why did Kate love being a doctor?
From an early age Kate loved caring for others and used to help with her mum at a local day care centre for older people whilst at school. She used to love hearing the stories and tales from the older generations and this gave her the passion and desire to become a doctor for older people.
I love our secretaries so much. Came into work this morning finally to have my own desk and this… Made me 😊 pic.twitter.com/HhPUoQxhj1
— Kate Granger (@GrangerKate) January 14, 2016
Her compassionate side was always evident both in work and outside of work and she truly embodied a role model of a doctor. Looking after others and either making them better or making them more comfortable was Kate’s passion.
For those of our readers who don’t know about the #hellomynameis campaign, please could you tell us how it started?
During a hospital stay in August 2013 with post-operative sepsis, Kate and I made the stark observation that many staff looking after her didn’t introduce themselves before delivering her care. This felt incredibly wrong that such a basic step in communication was missing. After ranting at me one visiting time I encouraged her to “stop whinging and do something about it!”
We decided to start a campaign, primarily using social media initially, to encourage and remind healthcare staff about the importance of introductions in healthcare.
Kate and I firmly believe it is not just about common courtesy, it runs much deeper. Introductions are about making a human connection between one person who is suffering and vulnerable, and another person who wishes to help.
In our minds #hellomynameis is the first rung on the ladder to providing truly person-centred, compassionate care. This was the first ever tweet we sent using the hashtag.
What was the reaction like from NHS staff, patients and the general public and home and overseas?
The reaction overall has been amazing and more than Kate and I could have ever expected. We thought it would be a small campaign that may have lasted a few weeks or months but within the first few days we realised it was much, much bigger than this. The support was flooding in and examples of this being a common issue across many hospitals not just in the UK but worldwide was clear.
You and Kate took the campaign on tour in the UK, despite Kate’s poor health. What did being able to do this mean to her?
Kate and I wanted to keep the campaign alive and Kate was receiving a huge amount of requests to speak at various hospitals and events in both the UK and abroad. I suggested the idea of a UK tour to try and satisfy as many requests as possible in a week and to keep the momentum building after the 2nd February national collaborative launch with Listening into Action (LIA).
We visited 16 healthcare organisations over a week, covering over 2000 miles, with Kate sharing her story with nearly 2000 members of staff. Kate absolutely loved this and she was treated like a superstar wherever she travelled. I think this (combined with LIA launch) truly made Kate and I feel that we had made a difference and that #hellomynameis is here to stay.
— Kate Granger (@GrangerKate) June 18, 2015
What support is there for the carers of cancer patients and how can we look after them too?
I feel that the support I was given was at the right level and appropriate to myself – so very bespoke support but I was in the fortunate position of having Kate who could explain to me in non-medical speak what was going on and what impact this would have.
I was offered additional support along the way as necessary and always knew who to contact or where to go for this. I would also say that the support given from St Gemma’s Hospice in Leeds to Kate, myself and other family and friends was exceptional and I couldn’t think of anything I would have changed – truly amazing end of life care.
We were so sorry when we heard about Kate passing in away in July. How proud does her incredible legacy make you?
Like I mentioned earlier – Kate died on our 11th wedding anniversary which is very poignant and shows that Kate was in control right until the end. I am immensely proud of everything Kate achieved in her 34 years and more so the legacy that she has left, which will continue to build given the national and international support both Kate and I receive around the campaign and just around being inspiring to others.
— Kate Granger (@GrangerKate) June 21, 2015
Only I knew exactly what Kate was going through 24/7 and for her to be coping with this alongside working as a doctor (becoming a consultant), playing in an orchestra, travelling the country to talk at conferences, being an amazing wife, seeing the family, promoting #hellomynameis, receiving and giving awards etc. makes me hugely proud and she will continue to inspire me every day for the rest of my life.
— Kate Granger (@GrangerKate) August 31, 2015
You’re continuing to champion the #hellomynameis campaign. What is coming up and how can Womanthology readers show their support?
Prior to Kate’s passing we discussed next steps for #hellomynameis and what this would mean for me (given I work as a senior supply chain manager for fresh food at Asda – a busy job in itself). The campaign is truly global and we have ambassadors for the campaign across both the NHS and the world that actively encourage its usage and to further promote and spread.
Kate’s wishes was for me to still be involved with the campaign to ensure it doesn’t become something that we never intended it to be – it’s about the individuals actually wanting to do it and understanding the benefits – not just becoming a corporate tick box exercise.
I am busy organising my schedules for the next few months as I am speaking at various conferences about both Kate and the campaign – this includes UK conferences and globally in the US and Australia. We often discussed the thought of a global tour which would help continue the campaign’s trajectory and usage. We know that #hellomynameis is widespread in Australia and is used across various other countries including Italy, USA (John Hopkins University), South Africa, Canada, India, Tasmania, Sweden and Finland amongst others.
Womanthology readers can show their support by observing its usage whilst in hospitals and not being afraid to challenge back to staff that don’t introduce themselves. It’s as much the patients’ / visitors’ responsibility to ensure it continues as the healthcare staff. Irrespective of job it should be used – be it doctors, nurses, porters, chief exec etc.
Kate also wrote two inspirational books that tracked her journey as a doctor and a patient which are available at www.theothersidestory.co.uk on both Kindle and paperback with all profits going to the Yorkshire Cancer Centre based in Leeds, where Kate received her treatment and care that kept her alive for five years.