Case Study: Schwartz Rounds

The Schwartz Round Community at Lancashire Teaching Hospital NHS FT

Case Study kindly submitted by Tracey Pratchett

Three NHS staff members pictured in a group forming a circle. In the foreground a woman grasps her hands together under her mouth with her hooded top pulled up round her chin and to her left a man also sits hands clasped in front of his mouth, elbows leaning on a small table. They wear reflective expressions. Two more female participants can be seen, one with open body language and the other's face is out of shot.
Simulation training with medical students and doctors. Photo courtesy of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, photographer Cat Lamoon.

We launched Schwartz Rounds in June 2021 to provide a group reflective practice forum enabling staff from all disciplines to reflect on the emotional aspects of their work. They provide crucial support for staff by creating a safe space for people to share and reflect on their experiences. Working with the Associate Director of Workforce Business Partnering & Advice, I have been involved in:

  • Recruiting staff for the Steering Group
  • Chairing Steering Group meetings
  • Being trained as a Round facilitator
  • Supporting panel members with storytelling
  • Capturing feedback
  • Communicating about the project

To prepare for the launch, I met with a number of senior stakeholders to engage them with the project and recruited them to the Steering Group which representing staff from across the organisation. This group adopts an advocacy role, promoting the Rounds and identifying topics and panels members.

Each Schwartz Round is based on a topic or theme which is chosen by the Steering Group. Topics are drawn from issues which are affecting staff well-being, or from successful topics used in other organisations. For each topic, the facilitators work with 3-4 panel members to help them to prepare their stories which are then shared in the Schwartz Round itself. Our role as facilitator is to help the panellists prepare their stories, whilst holding a safe space and drawing out themes.

Panel Member quote: Initially when invited to take part in Sxhwartz Rounds I thought it was going to be "another course" that I didn't need, but in actual fact I felt it was extremely beneficial, built a stronger bond between staff and a greater understanding between departments. The emotions that everyone experienced throughout the session really surprised me, all the way from sad tears to happy ones. I would highly recommend this experience for all staff.

So far we have run 3 Rounds, “A patient I’ll never forget”, “When teams work well together” and “A day in the life”. To ensure that the Rounds are accessible to everyone, we have run them at different times and have had panel members representing a range of clinical and non-clinical professions. We have also seen participants attending from a wide range of departments, showing a willingness to reflect and share their experiences.

Participant quote: The session was really emotive and resonating. I think these are an excellent way to help improve mental well-being and emotional intelligence for our staff, and to help reduce the isolation that people can often feel when coping with the emotional burden that comes hand in hand with providing patient care. Listening to other's stories and the compassion shown by the participants was really inspiring after what has been an incredibly difficult 12.18 months for the health care sector nationally. I believe these sessions will help us return to our roles with a little more compassion and emotional awareness which will benefit both patients and colleagues.

The ethos of Schwartz Rounds was traditionally to bring people together physically over lunch. Covid however has made this impossible, so we run our sessions on Teams. Despite initial misgivings, feedback demonstrates that people feel safe to share in this online forum and the conversation has flowed. Both panel members and attendees feel valued through the Schwartz Rounds and have developed a sense of being part of a wider team. The Rounds move the focus away from day to day problem solving towards feelings, emotions and experience. I have attended all 3 sessions both as a facilitator and participant and feel humbled by the stories that I have heard and privileged to be part of this community.