One of the most important things you will say today? The #hellomynameis story…


Hello, my name is Chris Pointon (@pointonchris) and I am the co-founder of the #hellomynameis campaign and husband of the late Dr. Kate Granger MBE. My inspiring wife was a doctor but also a terminally ill cancer patient who was diagnosed with a desmoplastic small round cell tumour in 2011. Her experience on the other side (as a doctor turned patient) resulted in her inspiring many thousands of people across the world through the writing of two books (, our tireless fundraising for charity (to date we have raised over £340,000), her dedication to healthcare and the #hellomynameis campaign that we founded almost 5 years ago now.

Her values and beliefs were around how effective communication is key in healthcare alongside the little things that make a huge difference to patient care and recognising the individual as a person and not just an illness – keeping them at the centre of all decisions.

How did the #hellomynameis campaign start?

The campaign came out of a hospital admission that Kate and I experienced in 2013. It became apparent after quite a few which was really getting to Kate because she was feeling quite low and her pain was increasing. When we talked about it that evening and Kate was moaning about it somewhat, I just said to her, “Darling, stop whinging and let’s do something about it”, let’s use your social media presence and come up with a campaign – let’s call it something like ‘#hellomynameis’ – and it was born.

Kate already had a large Twitter following, so we felt we could use the power of social media to get the message out. At the start, we thought this would be a two-week, two-month, or maybe six-month phenomena. But look how far it has come! We now operate in over 20 countries across 6 continents and receive many plaudits across the globe for a simple campaign that has revolutionised global healthcare

The campaign probably shouldn’t have been needed in the first place as many of us think we’re courteous and communicate well, but if you stop and think about it, maybe we aren’t. That’s why this campaign continues to be so important for health care and wider industries across the world.

Why is it so successful?

It takes very little time to do, helps build trust and is the start of a therapeutic relationship between 2 persons – common courtesy really.

The amount of uptake from the very start, within the NHS first and foremost, then across the world has been unbelievable. My ambition now is to keep spreading the message across as many health care and other establishments as I can, making sure that organizations embed the change into their culture.

But change takes time

It can take several months, if not years, to embed change into an organization, but such a simple change with such a simple message can have a huge impact. I think that’s why so many organizations have chosen to make this part of their culture, to add it to their office signature, or make it part of their name badges. The campaign is about people who are willing and wanting to connect with patients in a meaningful way.

Kate’s Legacy

Kate died in July 2016 on our 11th wedding anniversary however the legacy she leaves is immense and includes various awards across the world named after her to recognise individuals and teams that exude compassionate care and really live and breathe the values that Kate stood for.

Despite the adversity Kate still created an amazing legacy that will be here for not just our generation but for many generations to come.

Thank you

See more on or @pointonchris on twitter

Reflecting and relaunching LittleThingsTLC!

We started Little Things TLC in 2016; a group of us passionate about person centred care. We felt that it is often the little things that make the biggest difference. We published a few blogs and saw a little bit of reaction on Twitter, but it is fair to say we did not manage to generate any waves or rock any boats! Work and life then took over, with all of us moving jobs and roles, and whilst every so often we would mention Little Things we did not quite have the energy or time to take any action.

However, our ambition has been relit! Last month I heard Chris Pointon, widower of the late Kate Granger, speak at the Royal College of Occupational Therapists annual conference. He gave a moving speech for which he truly deserved the standing ovation he received. He started at the beginning, about when he and Kate met, their normal and happy life, until her diagnosis in 2011. He spoke about the new turn in the road in their journey and Kate’s determination to make a difference to patient lives as a result of her experiences – both to the patients she treated as a geriatrician and to many thousands the world over through the #mynameis campaign.

Chris spoke about legacy and core values. He showed a video of Kate talking about her core values and it got me reflecting about my own…



I believe that our focus with patients should be on empowerment; on enabling them to take control of their situation or condition and focus on the things that are important to them. As an occupational therapist, I believe in helping people to help themselves; enabling and equipping them with techniques and tools to self manage and be able to do the things that are important to them. This value was re-emphasised during my involvement in the #imstillme research where older people told us that they do not want to be defined by diagnoses, they want to focus on doing the things they want to do, even if they need help to do them, and even where they know there is perhaps an element of risk such as having a fall. It is the need for choice and control that is important to them.


In my current role in Quality Improvement, we equip our staff (and increasingly patients) to make the changes they feel are important in their part of the system in order to achieve the improvements that they want to see and which motivate and are important to them. I truly believe in this bottom up approach to change- that it is our patients and our staff who are the experts in the system; they know exactly what works and what doesn’t, where the inefficiencies lie and what improvements could be made. Where we have had to focus on an organisational aim and have a clear idea of WHAT we need to focus on, we involve our staff and teams to help us work out HOW to do this and empower them to make the changes they feel will work in their area. This motivates and energises staff- so change does actually happen- and usually has the traction and sustainability that top down initiatives rarely have. At our graduation days, staff who have participated in the Quality Improvement programme describe this feeling of empowerment, of focus within their roles and increased job satisfaction. It is great to see successful project outcomes, but this change in how staff feel, about their empowerment, never fails to move me and make me feel proud of the approach that we are taking.

In my leadership roles I try hard to collaborate and involve people- implementing my ideas, by myself is not leadership. I think good leadership is about collaboration, engagement and empowerment of others.


The little things

In my clinical practice I have always tried to be holistic and person focussed. This requires understanding patients backgrounds, values and goals. We are never going to motivate someone with rehabilitation, which can be hard work and painful, if we don’t understand what someone wants to achieve. Developing this therapeutic rapport sometimes means engaging in some personal conversation, it sometimes means breaking from protocol slightly, it sometimes means doing something that is not in your official job role. But it is often these things that mean the most to patients; a smile, a few minutes listening, making a cup of tea, tuning their radio…. We need to remember as health and social care professionals we may be the only person someone sees or talks to that day.

I try to follow this in my personal life as well; not always so easy, especially in London where it is often ‘survival of the fittest’ or you just wouldn’t ever squeeze into the tube carriage during rush hour! But again small moments- a smile across the tube, giving a pregnant woman your seat on the train, a thank-you to the new member of staff in Pret struggling with the till, letting someone go before you in a queue because they’re obviously in a rush to catch their train, letting a car out before you at a busy junction…

I have a sign inside my front door which says ‘be the reason someone smiles today’. If we all tried to make one person smile in I busy lives, the world might be a slightly happier place. And often all it takes is a little thing…

In my Quality Improvement role again we stress the little things- the need to start small with tests of change. To try something out with one patient, one clinic or on one day. Starting small in this way lets us be brave, creative and timely with change and improvement. We then look to gradually scaling them up so that these small tests of change lead to large scale, sustained improvement.

We find that many of our staff need some reassurance of this. They often have big ideas and need to be convinced that starting small can lead to big change despite the growing body of evidence that it can!


Forgive me, I have perhaps gone off topic! I started by reflecting on how we had let Little Things fall by the wayside. Hearing Chris speak and my subsequent reflections, has made me realise that what we are trying to do with Little Things is too important to let this happen! In our busy lives we sometimes need reminding of what is important and what not to take for granted. Perhaps this blog will remind you also and make you reflect on your values, and what little things you can do to live those values. It can be difficult to generate those big waves, but if we all rock our boat a little bit we might just make a big difference.



Laura Stuart-Neil is Lead for Quality Improvement and Lead for Allied Health Professionals at NELFT


New Year’s Resolutions – focus on the Little Things!

As we enter a new year it is often a time for new starts, new beginnings. As part of this an estimated 32% of us will set ourselves New Year’s Resolutions.

The top 4 New Year’s Resolutions focus on health and appearance – to lose weight, to get fitter, to eat more healthily and to take more care of my appearance[1].

Of course we should applaud these attempts to improve our health. Recent figures released by Public Health England suggest that 80% of those aged 40-60 are overweight, drink too much or get too little exercise[2] – obviously the impact of this on our health has an impact on our over stretched NHS.

However the motivation for many is appearance and confidence rather than the health benefits. So perhaps they suggest that we are too focussed on the superficial and on what others think of us? And perhaps they should give us cause for concern? An estimated 66% of people fail to keep their resolution for even 1 month – the effect of making and then breaking one of these resolutions actually could actually have a detrimental impact on our self-esteem.

Experts argue that you are more likely to succeed in your resolution if you focus on one thing at a time[3]. They also suggest you are more likely to success if you tell someone your resolution and if you change your behaviour with others.

So we have a suggestion – why don’t we all commit on Twitter to a shared New Year’s Resolution to do a little thing every day for someone else and to ‘be the reason someone smiles today’.

Surely those resolutions are achievable? No grand gestures, no expensive gym membership, no beating yourself up that you are not Instagram perfect by the end of year – just one small thing every day that touches someone else. It could be as simple as saying hello to someone, asking someone how they are, making a colleague a cup of tea when they look like they might need one, letting a car out in front of you on a busy road…one small thing that makes someone smile or makes their lives easier just for that moment.

Do more of what makes you happy – do not beat yourself up by failing to keep your New Year’s Resolution past the end of January – it makes perfect sense that you are more likely to stick to a resolution that is shared and not just for yourself. Make yourself and others think more of you for what you do rather than just what you look like.

Picture yourself on December 31st 2017 – will you feel more successful fitting into that size 10 dress or having made 365 people smile over the year?  Let 2017 be the year you make yourself happy by focussing on the little things. Are you in? Please join in at #littlethings2017


Laura Stuart-Neil is Lead for Quality Improvement and Allied Health Professionals at NELFT.



[1] The Guardian, ‘How long do people keep their New Year resolutions’, 31/12/15

[2] BBC News, ‘Middle age health crisis warning’, 28/12/16

[3] Independent, ‘New Year 2016 resolutions: how to keep them’, 01/01/16

Five little words: a tribute to the inspiring Kate Granger

Hello, my name is Fi. Those five words seem really little but they’re big, huge even, and they demonstrate the very essence of this blog and what we are trying to do here. Let’s start at the end though and go backwards.

We at Little Things were so sad to hear that the inspirational Dr Kate Granger passed away last weekend. Our thoughts are with her husband Chris and family and friends as they mourn her death. Kate, through her humility and honesty, inspired many people to be better (including us). Her story, resilience and approach has well-documented but it’s worth re-stating she stared death in the face for 6 years and found depths of courage to fight for better care through it.

On the #hellomynameis website, Kate introduces this campaign:

I’m a doctor, but also a terminally ill cancer patient. During a hospital stay in August 2013 with post-operative sepsis, I made the stark observation that many staff looking after me did not introduce themselves before delivering my care. It felt incredibly wrong that such a basic step in communication was missing. After ranting at my husband during one evening visiting time he encouraged me to “stop whinging and do something!” We decided to start a campaign, primarily using social media initially, to encourage and remind healthcare staff about the importance of introductions in healthcare.”

The rest, as they say, is history. According to the website, #hellomynameis has made over 1 billion impressions since its inception with an average of 6 tweets an hour and as you’ll read it is, most importantly, changing the personal interactions around healthcare today. Here’s three reflections from us about why this is:

  1. In the busy, messy, always-on life we live these days sometimes it can be difficult to remember to start with a greeting. In a lot of cultures though, greeting others is very important. It is an opportunity for people to show respect, through the language used and its accompanying actions, and the tone for the interaction is set. Whether the greeting is written or spoken, choosing the appropriate language is important.
  2. It takes bravery to be the person who genuinely starts #hellomynameis in almost any situation (remember the palpitations of introducing yourself to new colleagues, friends, potential partners at the beginning?), whether you might be feeling empowered by the professional role that brings you there or not. There is this point, here around ‘my name’ where you can choose to authentically go ‘all in’ and build a relationship with this person or choose to speed through who you are and get on with ‘the business at hand’. There’s a lot written and said about first impressions but the thing that sticks with me more than anything else is that it’s not necessarily what you say but how you say it – how you make them feel. Saying #hellomynameis is really important but meaning it is even more crucial.
  3. I’ve just started in a new job, in a really new organisation, and we’ve been reflecting on how you get people to work well together. The answer is in some ways really simple, it’s through relationships and trust. How do I build that with people I want to work with? I start by telling them my name. It’s a springboard to finding the commonalities that exist between us all that allow us to comprehend the humanity in all of us. My full name is Fiona Kirsten McKenzie but lots people call me Fi and telling you (as readers) that is a choice that gives you power. It starts a conversation about who I am as a person, and who you are and what matters most to both of us.

I’ve spent the week staring this post in the face, struggling to find the perfect words to explain why what Dr Kate Granger did was so momentous and why those 5 words matter so much. Instead let me tell you a story.

There’s a staff nurse named Peter who catches the train with me each morning. I know his name and job because he proudly wears a ‘hello my name is Peter’ badge and #hellomynameis lanyard each and every day. This simple ‘little thing’ has changed the relationship between us, he looked up as I scrutinised his badge – I smiled, he smiled and now we smile at each other every morning. It’s a very human moment in a commute full of people avoiding each other’s eyes. One day, very soon, I will be brave and introduce myself to Peter properly and learn more about his life on the front line providing much needed care and concern for our patients and communities.

#hellomynameis has built many genuine connections between staff and patients across the country. Long may it continue – we are in your debt Kate.


Fiona McKenzie, Deputy Director, UK Improvement Alliance


Population-based health and care – what will it mean for patients?

This blog was originally published on the UCLPartners website on 31st May 2016.

Over the past few months there has been a growing focus on population-based approaches to health and social care. The Kings Fund and others have published a number of documents on place-based care and accountable care organisations. We have also heard increasingly about devolution with the developments in Manchester and London, where five devolution pilots were announced in December 2015. The Five Year Forward View described the need to address the triple aim: improved health outcomes; quality of care; and cost. These aims, plus the recent advent of sustainability and transformation plans (STPs), signals a clear direction from NHS England – that plans should be delivered through a population-based approach.

UCLPartners hosted an event on 18 May 2016 to initiate discussion on how we can begin to do this in London. Over 120 healthcare leaders from across London were joined by representatives from national organisations at City Hall and, overlooking some of the icons of London such as the Gherkin and Tower Bridge, discussed how we can work better across health and social care to improve the health of our populations.

There were three main topics on the day: reviewing the evidence for change, introducing the London devolution pilots, and discussing how we overcome some of the barriers to enable such change. There was a lot of great discussion but, for me, there were two main themes:

1. We must view devolution as a process and an enabler for change – not the goal.

The STPs and devolution pilots give us the opportunity to do things differently – to really think about how we integrate services and develop more of a focus on prevention and wellbeing. It is vital to consider workforce and relationships to achieve this change. David Fish, our managing director, reminded us how key the workforce is to change. The national bodies represented at the event appeared to share the vision of the need for transformation. A recurring theme during the discussions was the need to focus and nurture relationships at all levels if we are going to achieve whole system change; one of the devolution pilots reminded us that the organisations all need to ‘hold hands and jump together’.

2. We must not lose sight of our ultimate goal – patient benefit.

Will Tuckley, chair of the London devolution board reminded us not to forget that this work is about the health and wellbeing of Londoners. Jeremy Taylor of National Voices also reminded us not get distracted by structure and reorganisation – but focus on what matters and what impacts on our patients. Patients are not interested in what transformation programmes we are engaged in – they just want good or better care. We should focus on doing the right thing for patients. For many patients it is often the little things that matter the most – the interactions that they have with the staff providing their care.

The event had a sense of anticipation and excitement – the opportunity for our health and social care system to really look at doing things differently to improve care and outcomes for our patients, whilst also addressing the financial deficit. Personally, I am excited to see what the next few months bring as the STPS and devolution pilots continue to develop. I hope that our health and social care leaders retain the optimism expressed at this event and the desire to think creatively and push boundaries, whilst always keeping at the forefront what matters and impacts most on the health of our population.


Laura Stuart-Neil is programme manager within the System Transformation Team at UCLPartners. @laurajstuart