Breakout session E – Schwartz Rounds - Who cares for the carers?
Delivered by Juanita Guidera, Quality Improvement Division Lead Staff Engagement, Health Service Executive, Ireland.
At Life as a Consultant Symposium: Friday 16 March 2018

In a time of complex service provision where physician burnout is a common occurrence, there is an urgent need within healthcare to provide meaningful supports for staff.   

Schwartz Rounds provide a valuable opportunity for all staff to reflect on the emotional impact of their work through conversations facilitated by a local clinical lead and facilitator.  They are unique in that unlike other supports for staff they do not seek to solve problems or look for outcomes.  Through the sharing of our stories in confidence, Schwartz Rounds provide a framework which have been proven to improve staff wellbeing (reducing psychological distress), reduce hierarchy and improve teamwork and connection which ultimately has an impact on improved patient centred care.  

In 2015, the Quality Improvement Division engaged the Point of Care Foundation to licence, train and mentor staff in two sites to test the introduction of Schwartz Rounds in an Irish context (over 300 healthcare settings in the US and 100 in the UK have successfully introduced rounds).  Based on the success of this work, over the coming two years, QID is working collaboratively with the Point of Care Foundation to establish Schwartz Rounds with up to 30 teams in Ireland (12 sites have already completed training).

Note on Schwartz Rounds

In healthcare today, we see increasing complexity in service provision, changing societal dynamics and ongoing work to save costs and improve efficiency.  While clinicians are ever passionate about their patients, each day we hear stories of the impact of physician burnout and disengagement.  Colleagues have less opportunities to come together as a team, to pause and reflect and many are forgoing breaks and mealtimes to meet patient needs.  However, we know from international evidence that all of these things are essential if staff are to not only remain physically and mentally healthy on a personal level but to also provide safe services for those they meet and to be at their best when they return home to families and friends outside of work.   

Schwartz Rounds have been shown to lead to:
•    Increased insight into the social and emotional aspects of patient care
•    Increased confidence to deal with sensitive and non-clinical issues relating to patients
•    Beliefs in the importance of empathy and actual empathy with patients as people
•    Openness to expressing thoughts, questions and feelings.
•    Decreased feelings of stress and isolation
•    Improved team work and interdisciplinary communication
•    Specific changes in departmental or organisation wide practices as a result of insights that have arisen from discussions in Rounds.

Useful Resources

If you are interested in establishing Schwartz Rounds, please contact Aggie Rice, The Point of Care Foundation.

Reviewed September 2021.