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Researchers publish guide to help implement Schwartz rounds in UK

The regular workplace forums help to reduce staff stress

A new guide and film have been released to help run or introduce ‘transformative’ Schwartz rounds across the UK.


Schwartz rounds enable staff to discuss work experiences. Picture: SWNS

The resources were designed by researchers from the University of Surrey, University of Sheffield, King’s College London and the King’s Fund, and aim to improve awareness and understanding of the rounds and support their development.

Schwartz rounds are regular forums, usually monthly, which offer healthcare staff the chance to share work experiences and any challenges they have faced.

The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare introduced Schwartz rounds the US more than 20 years ago.

They were piloted at two NHS trusts in 2009 and have been rolled out across the UK and worldwide. Although an estimated 160 NHS organisations are using the rounds, the researchers warn that their implementation is inconsistent across the UK.

Recommendations from the guide include:

  • Training more than one facilitator for each round to avoid burnout of facilitators.
  • The use of pop-up rounds to reach workers such as ward-based staff who might not be able to attend the scheduled sessions.

Support from senior management is vital

The guide emphasises that support from the organisation in which the round takes place is needed to sustain their provision. Also, senior managers should help to implement initiatives that will encourage and enable all staff groups to attend.

The nine-minute film that complements the guide explains how to understand and implement Schwartz rounds.

Last year, results from a study led by University of Surrey professor of nursing Jill Maben showed that regularly attending Schwartz rounds could cut rates of stress in the workplace by at least half, from 25% to 12%.

Transforming workplace culture

Robert Francis QC promoted the use of Schwartz rounds in his report into care failures at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust. 

In a foreword to the new publication, An Organisational Guide: Understanding, Implementing and Sustaining Schwartz Rounds, Sir Robert writes: ‘Rounds have the capacity to be transformative of culture.’

He adds: ‘Rounds are effective because of the commitment of an organisation to them, the support given to those who organise them, and the techniques required to ensure they are genuinely reflective and experiential occasions, and not part of some top-down management process.’

‘A proven way to reduce psychological distress’ 

Professor Maben, who started research into Schwartz rounds while working at King’s College London, said: ‘These forums are a proven way to reduce psychological distress among healthcare workers, but their sustainability requires organisational commitment at board level.

‘This commitment is demonstrated by ensuring adequate resources are provided, as well as support and recognition of the rounds’ value to workforce well-being, and consequently to patient care.’

Full results from A Longitudinal National Evaluation of Schwartz Centre Rounds, which is being led by Professor Maben, are due to be published later this year.

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