Expansion of groundbreaking scheme to support NHS staff

The expansion of a groundbreaking scheme to help foster a culture of compassionate patient care was announced by Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter today.

The scheme, called Schwartz Center Rounds allows NHS staff to get together once a month to reflect on the stresses and dilemmas that they have faced while caring for patients. Robert Francis QC specifically pointed to the positive impact of Schwartz Center Rounds in his report.

Research pilot sites in America and England show staff who attend Schwartz Center Rounds:

  • Feel they communicate better with their patients and colleagues;

  • Feel less isolated and more supported;

  • Feel better able to cope with the emotional pressures of their work; and

  • Understand better how their colleagues think.

The Department of Health will give a grant of almost £650,000 over the next two years to the Point of Care Foundation to expand the scheme.

Monthly Schwartz Center Rounds are currently established in 15 NHS trusts. By the end of the two years of the grant, around 40 additional Trusts should have established Schwartz Center Rounds. The Point of Care Foundation will also have developed a national network of trainers and mentors who will continue to spread Rounds to new organisations into the future.

For the first time ever, they will also be piloted with GP practices, district nurses and in the community.

Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said:

Shocking failures of care – like Mid Staffs and Winterbourne View – demonstrate the need for more compassionate care right across hospitals and care homes.

As a doctor, I know how rewarding it is to care for patients, but that there isn’t always the right culture that allows staff to share the challenges they have faced while caring for patients.

Schwartz Center Rounds have been shown to help hospital and care staff support each other and learn about how to deal better with tough situations, and spend more time focused on caring for patients in a compassionate way. That is something I want to see more of, and that is why we are expanding this programme.

Jocelyn Cornwell, Director of The Point of Care Foundation, said:

Doctors, nurses, health professionals and support workers all work extremely hard to deliver the best possible care to patients. But patients do not always have a good experience of healthcare – sometimes they don’t understand what is happening, their preferences aren’t taken into account or they aren’t spoken to sensitively. Often, this is because staff feel challenged or stressed by the high pressure environment in which they work.

The Schwartz Center Rounds give staff an opportunity to discuss their working lives in a supportive and confidential environment. By regularly talking about their experiences, healthcare staff re-connect with the reasons they went into healthcare and develop a greater understanding of their colleagues. This fosters better teamwork and ultimately better care for patients. We hope the Schwartz Center Rounds will help transform the culture of many organisations and make a significant contribution to improving patient care.

The Point of Care Foundation will use the grant to run information sessions for interested acute trusts across the NHS. They will provide advice and guidance to trusts on how to organise and manage Schwartz Center Rounds, as well as train staff on how to run them.

Chris Ham, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund, said:

The Point of Care programme has played an important role in encouraging the development of high-quality, patient-centred care. I am delighted that, through the programme, the Fund piloted and evaluated the pioneering Schwartz Rounds to support NHS staff in providing compassionate care.

We wish Jocelyn Cornwell and colleagues well in continuing this and other important work through The Point of Care Foundation.

Schwartz Centre Rounds were first developed by the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare in Boston, USA.

Marjorie Stanzler, Senior Director of Programs for the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, said:

We are so pleased that the NHS has made Schwartz Center Rounds a central part of its strategy to improve the patient and caregiver experience. This is an exciting validation of our work. Our Rounds program has been changing the culture in more than 320 hospitals and other healthcare facilities throughout the United States, and we are confident that it will usher in similar changes in the UK.

Notes to editors

Schwartz Center Rounds® were developed by The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare in Boston Massachusetts, USA. They were developed following the death of Ken Schwartz, who died in 1995 from lung cancer. He was 40 years old and a seemingly healthy non-smoker. Prior to his death, he set up the Schwartz Center to nurture compassion in healthcare and to encourage healthcare workers to make “the unbearable bearable” through “the smallest acts of kindness.” See www.theschwartzcenter.org for further information.

For further information about the Point of Care Foundation, please contact Creina Lilburne, Communications Manager, on 07941 156 827.

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