In 1994 a health attorney called Ken Schwartz was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. During his period of treatment, Ken found that small and simple acts of kindness from his caregivers and nurses made “the unbearable bearable”. As a result, before his death, Ken left a legacy by founding the Schwartz Centre is Boston, to help to encourage compassion in healthcare.
“I have learned that medicine is not merely about performing tests or surgeries, or administering drugs… For as skilled and knowledgeable as my caregivers are, what matters most is that they have empathised with me in a way that gives me hope and makes me feel like a human being, not just an illness.”
Schwartz Round forums were introduced to provide an opportunity for all staff, both clinical and non clinical, to come together, discuss and reflect on the emotional and social aspects of working in healthcare. The purpose of the Schwartz Rounds was to understand both the challenges and rewards to providing care and to help staff feel more supported in their jobs, allowing them both time and space to reflect on their roles. In 2009, Schwartz Rounds were bought into the UK by the Point of Care programme and have continued to be implemented in NHS hospitals. More recently, the Cromwell Hospital has started to carry out its own Schwartz Rounds, ¬ making them the first private hospital to do so.
Helen Storey, Oncology Counsellor and Ruth Dando, ITU manager, from the Cromwell are leading on the delivery of Schwartz Rounds in the hospital. Every month, staff can reflect and discuss on some of the challenges of healthcare in a confidential space. These sessions usually last an hour and a half and Helen and the Schwartz Round steering group will select a four person panel to provide a five minute talk on a certain topic. For example, "a patient I will never forget" or "caught between the patient and their family". After the panel have given their comments, the rest of the attendees have a chance to share their personal experiences on the topics. This allows the staff to listen to each other's stories and have their voices heard at work. So far, Helen has hosted six sessions, with an average attendance of 33 staff members. The feedback has been fantastic with 22% rating the sessions as good, 57% excellent and 19% exceptional.
"Very thought-provoking discussions brought back memories of my patients and families. A lovely opportunity to reflect and share with others. Very emotive, thank you."
Well done Helen for not only implementing the Schwartz Rounds into the hospital, but for allowing the Cromwell staff to have the opportunity to reflect on their roles, feel supported and share experiences.