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Hospice UK Annual Conference 2016- Day 2 Roundup

Author: Suzanne Stevenson
18 November 2016

Chris Pointon - co-founder of the successful #hellomynameiscampaign -  gave an inspirational and very moving address on the second day of Hospice UK’s annual conference 2016 which received a standing ovation from delegates.

In one of the first occasions that he has spoken publicly about the campaign since the loss of his wife Dr Kate Granger who died in July at St Gemma’s Hospice in Leeds, he spoke about their life together, the beginnings of the campaign in 2013 and how its influence  has spread across the UK and globally.

Kate was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in 2011 and worked tirelessly to improve the patient experience in hospital.  

The campaign began on Twitter after Kate, during her many visits to hospitals for treatment and tests grew frustrated by the fact that often medical staff attending to her would not introduce themselves or look her in the eye.

It has since been adopted by many NHS trusts and other care providers and organisations across the UK and endorsed by celebrities such as Richard Branson and politicians including Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Prime Minister Theresa May.

Chris spoke movingly of Kate’s determination to return to work after her diagnosis and to make a positive difference, giving inspirational talks about her campaign, as well as pursuing her hobbies of baking and playing the flute and enjoying “a full life”.

He described the campaign “one of the simplest things that has made the biggest difference” and highlighted how it embodied Kate’s values including good communication in care, paying attention to “the little things” that could enhance patient care and ensuring the patient was involved in decision-making about their care.   

In tribute to Kate and in support of the campaign all speakers at Hospice UK’s conference have introduced themselves by saying “hello my name is…”.

The campaign has gained more than1.5billion Twitter impression and  is now being widely used everyday. Chris highlighted that its success was ultimately due to people’s individual willingness to get involved and make a difference to patient care.

Chris expressed heartfelt thanks to St Gemma’s Hospice for the “amazing care” they have given to his wife and expressed his pride that Kate had managed to achieve what she wanted before she died and that her legacy would live on for a long  time. He is planning to embark on a global tour to promote the #hellomyname is campaign in even more countries.

Chris said that Kate was a firm believer in making a difference to support people and encouraged everyone at the conference to do the same, that if they saw things were not right, to take action to create positive change. He expressed gratitude for all the support that they had both received and ended with a poignant farewell  to his wife:  “Thank you Kate for being my inspiration and sleep well.”

Keynote conference speech

Tracey Bleakley, Chief Executive of Hospice UK, gave the conference keynote speech when she launched the charity’s Hospice Care in the UK 2016 report

She said the report provided a valuable snapshot of the different aspects of hospice care and highlighted the high level of community-based support provided by hospices, with nearly a million visits made to people in the community each year, as well as their outreach work in care homes and hospitals, supporting 16,000 people each year.  

However, she also highlighted that there were still challenges around collecting data, especially given the variety of ways that hospices capture this.

Tracey, who has visited 70 hospices since she joined Hospice UK in January, also reflected on her first year at the charity Hospice UK and how she had learned so much from the “phenomenal work” happening in hospices around the country.

She highlighted some of the new initiatives and events launched by Hospice UK this year, including Hospice IQ and the Strategic Leadership Programme. Hospice UK’s new strategy, was also mentioned including its focus on tackling inequalities in end of life care and Tracey highlighted discussions with national partners such as the  British Heart Foundation, Carers UK and the Stroke Association to help expand the reach of hospice care.

She also touched on Hospice UK’s strand of work to do more to support those caring for people at the end of life and encourage more flexibility among employers so they could take time off for caring and retain their job, which she said could become the “new maternity”.

Sharing the best of business with the hospice movement

During a later plenary there was a stimulating and thought-provoking discussion on the theme of “Should hospices be more like businesses?” with Eamonn O’Neal, Chief Executive of St Ann’s Hospice in Manchester and David Picton, Chief Sustainability Officer at Carillion, one of Hospice UK’s leading corporate partners.

Eamonn said that in many areas hospices were effectively businesses and that the care they provided to patients and families was “our currency and our profit”. He emphasised the need for hospices to be robust in tackling the barriers that affect “business” such as performance management and sickness absence but also to be bold in rising to future challenges.

“We owe it to our partners to instil bold ambition into our DNA or we won’t move forward or reach our full potential,” he said.

David said there was much that businesses could learn from hospices “Discretionary effort is the fundamental value of your ecosystem” he said, highlighting how staff and volunteers were always willing to go the extra mile and said hospices had a powerful role in “touching lives.”.

 He said hospices should “pick the best” in learning from businesses and only where it helps them, for example eliminating duplication and inefficiencies and also highlighted how collaboration among hospices will be their key strength in dealing with future challenges.
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