Bournemouth 2017

‘Schwartz Rounds’ – an interview with Alison Proudfoot from The Point of Care Foundation

Following the success of an introductory session at the 2016 ACPGBI conference in Edinburgh, the Association will this year host a plenary session dedicated to Schwartz Rounds. Schwartz Rounds are a unique forum, open to all staff in an organisation, where they come together regularly to discuss the emotional and social aspects of their work. Over 160 healthcare organisations are now running regular Rounds across the UK.

We talked to Alison Proudfoot from The Point of Care Foundation, who explained how staff need to feel supported in their roles in order to continue to provide compassionate care to patients.

“There is much evidence to show that people working in highly-pressurised, emotionally charged environments have a natural tendency to emotionally withdraw, which can cumulatively have a negative impact on their health and wellbeing,” Alison said.
This is a particular concern in the current healthcare context, with increasing demands and restricted resources. “Schwartz Rounds can help tackle the negative impact of these pressures by providing a structured and confidential forum where multidisciplinary members of staff – both clinical and non-clinical – come together regularly to discuss the emotional and social aspects of working in healthcare.”

The purpose of Rounds is not to solve problems or to focus on the clinical aspects of patient care, but to provide time and space to reflect on their roles and to share experiences in a non-judgemental way. As a result, staff can feel better understood and supported in their jobs, with research evidence showing that staff who attend Rounds feel less stressed and less isolated. Staff who attend Rounds report an increased insight and appreciation for each other’s roles, leading to better team working. Rounds can also help to reduce hierarchies between staff and to focus attention on relational aspects in addition to the technical and practical aspects of care delivery. Schwartz Rounds can have a beneficial impact on organisations as a whole, supporting open, and transparent communication:

“The more positive the experience of staff within an NHS Trust, the better the outcomes for that Trust. Engagement has many significant associations with patient satisfaction, patient mortality, infection rates, Annual Health check scores as well as staff absenteeism and turnover. The more engaged staff members are, the better outcomes for patients and the organisation generally.” (West and Dawson’s report, “Employee engagement and NHS performance staff engagement,” King’s Fund, 2012)

Schwartz Rounds are increasingly seen as playing a vital role in organisations engagement and support for staff.

Schwartz Rounds are named after US health attorney Ken Schwartz, who was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in 1994. During his treatment, he found that what mattered to him most as a patient were the simple acts of kindness from his caregivers, which he described as “making the unbearable bearable”. Before his death, he left a legacy for the establishment of the Schwartz Center in Boston, to help to foster compassion in healthcare.
In 2009, Schwartz Rounds were brought to the UK by the Point of Care programme at The King’s Fund and they continue to be implemented today by The Point of Care Foundation, the sole license provider of Schwartz Rounds in the UK and Ireland.

‘Live’ Round @ACPGBI
At July’s meeting in Bournemouth, The Point of Care Foundation will bring a ‘live’ Schwartz Round to colleagues. This session will be chaired by James Wheeler and will include two facilitators – Alison and her colleague, Dr Sean Elyan, a NHS Medical Director and trustee of The Point of Care Foundation. Participants on the panel will include one UK consultant, one Scandinavian consultant, one specialist nurse and one trainee.
It is hoped that this Schwartz Round will promote the support for Rounds in organisations and will underline the Association’s holistic commitment to patient care, emphasising the relational as well as technical aspects of our work, and demonstrating a real commitment to valuing and supporting members.
To sign up for the live Schwartz Round session as part of online registration, please visit:
The Point of Care Foundation is a small independent charity that supports groups to create open and compassionate cultures, by providing individuals with the tools to bring about change in their organisations. The Foundation works with an array of organisations in several sectors including hospital trusts, charities, mental health trusts, hospices and prisons throughout the UK.

For more information about The Point of Care Foundation, please click here.