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An Introduction to Schwartz Rounds

What are Schwartz Rounds?

Schwartz Rounds are conversations with staff about the emotional impact of their work.

Schwartz Rounds provide an opportunity for staff from all disciplines across a healthcare organisation to reflect on the emotional aspects of their work. Schwartz Rounds provide an evidenced based framework which has been proven to reduce psychological distress and improve staff well-being and teamwork which ultimately has an impact on person-centred care.

Schwartz Rounds were developed by the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare in Boston USA. In the US, more than 320 organisations have implemented Rounds while around 220 trusts and hospices are contracted to run Rounds in the UK. In Ireland over 25 services are now introducing Schwartz Rounds.

Schwartz Rounds are run on a monthly basis. Each round is based on a theme. The focus is on the human dimension of care. Three or four members of staff briefly tell a story about the theme. This is followed by a discussion facilitated by the Schwartz Rounds Clinical Lead and Facilitator which involves the wider audience and is an opportunity to listen, share and support, building mutual understandings.

Read a short introductory presentation on Schwartz Rounds.

Why introduce Schwartz Rounds?

Schwartz Rounds have been shown to lead to: increased insight into the social and emotional aspects of care; increased confidence to deal with sensitive issues; beliefs in the importance of empathy; openness to expressing thoughts, questions and feelings; decreased feelings of stress and isolation.

Listening to colleagues describe the challenges of their work helps to normalise emotions, which are part and parcel of working in healthcare but are often kept under the surface. This shared understanding manifests in improved communication between colleagues and a greater sense of interdisciplinary teamwork. Discussing the personal impact of working in healthcare reduces the sense of hierarchy that exists between staff. Seeing beyond the professional identity of colleagues allows staff to feel more connected to one another.

Initial data from Our Lady’s Hospice and Care Services in Dublin and University Hospital Galway showed that:

“86% of staff said they gained knowledge that will help them care for patients by participating in Schwartz Rounds, which mirrors similar validated evaluations from the UK”.

Data from more than 5,000 respondents in 2015 showed that 85% of staff feel better able to care for patients after attending Schwartz Rounds. In 2013, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) commissioned King’s College London to undertake a major National Evaluation of Rounds, published in 2018. Researchers found that the well-being of staff who attended Rounds regularly significantly improved, with the proportion of those with psychological distress halving-down from 25% to 12%.

Benefits and evidence on Schwartz Rounds

Access the Introducing Schwartz Rounds Leaflet (November 2021)