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Awards celebrate power of reflection to improve care by healthcare staff


A matron’s retelling of a story of an abused baby as a learning tool for staff has received an award for promoting reflective care experiences.

The winners of the inaugural Schwartz Awards that celebrate multi-disciplinary reflection on care experiences by healthcare workers were announced this week.

“Every entry was of a high standard and showed great thought and passion”

Esther Flanagan

They included Rebecca Platt, matron for children’s services at West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, and Robert Hardiman, a porter at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust.

The awards are designed to “celebrate the power, impact and development” of the Schwartz Rounds concept within the 150 organisations where they are running.

The concept involves a monthly one-hour session for staff from all disciplines to come together and discuss difficult emotional and social issues arising from patient care.

West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust

Matron receives award for telling ‘powerful’ abuse story

Becky Platt

The idea first began to be adopted by the NHS and other UK healthcare organisations in 2008 and are based on the US Schwartz Center Rounds system.

The Point of Care Foundation, which oversees the Schwartz Rounds initiative in the UK, said the “standard and volume of [awards] entries were phenomenal”.

After careful consideration, two winners were selected for each of the four awards categories, said the foundation.

Most Powerful Round

  • West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust: Becky Platt’s retelling of the story of abused baby Josie and the impact that the case had upon staff was incredibly moving
  • The Christie NHS Foundation Trust: porter Robert Hardiman’s story beautifully conveyed the vital and special connections between staff and patients

Best Schwartz Innovation

  • Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust: their video animation creatively explained the invention of ‘pop-up rounds’, a 30-minute round on the ward for those who struggle to attend the main rounds
  • The University of Liverpool: their entry showcased how rounds have been adapted for an undergraduate setting in order to role-model positive behaviours early on

Best Schwartz Poster

  • South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust: their poster beautifully used a tree image to illustrate the implementation and impact of rounds
  • Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust: their poster and wordgram mapped out feedback about rounds

Best Schwartz Photo:

  • Yusuf Yousuf, North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust: his photo captured the reflective ‘time-out’ and escape from hierarchies that rounds provide
  • Aoife Langton, Blackrock, Our Lady’s Hospice & Care Services: the entry demonstrated how a simple photo can bring a story to life

The winners were presented with certificates at a series of community conferences and had a cake sent to their next round to “promote the ethos of community, sharing, and time-out together”.

Esther Flanagan, Schwartz programme manager at the foundation, said: “The effort that went into all of the entries was amazing, and it really highlighted how important rounds have become to staff.

Point of Care Foundation

Matron receives award for telling ‘powerful’ abuse story

Esther Flanagan

“Every entry was of a high standard and showed great thought and passion, but the ones that really stood out for the judges were those which told a story, really capturing the essence of Schwartz Rounds,” she said.

She added: “It would be difficult to read the ‘most powerful round’ winners without being moved to tears; they beautifully capture those moments of raw emotion experienced by staff.

“Equally, the winning innovation entries left me inspired and hopeful about how rounds are evolving and how they will grow,” she said. “Needless to say, all eight winners are truly worthy.”

The Point of Care Foundation is an independent charity that developed out of the Point of Care programme, which was originally run by the King’s Fund think-tank from 2007-13.



Readers' comments (2)

  • I attended a Schwartz round at Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust back in July. The subject was returning to work after a personal bereavement.

    My Mum died on 29th June this year suddenly & unexpectedly at the age of 58. Needless to say my world has been turned upside down. At the time of my Mum's death, I was a first year student nurse on placement at the hospital.

    Besides the grief I was feeling at losing my Mum, I was worried about returning to the hospital as a student nurse. The sights, smells & noises conjured up memories of visiting my Mum in the mortuary. How could I ever imagine feeling comfortable & at home in the hospital ever again?

    A fellow student nurse & my best friend asked me to go along the Schwartz round, she herself had been in a similar situation to me 2 years previously.

    I shared my situation with the group, my heart was beating so fast with emotions & nerves but I managed to control them. The support, understanding & empathy I received from the group was overwhelming.
    I felt I had taken a step towards being able to continue with my nursing career.

    I made up the hours I missed during my compassionate leave 1 week after the Schwartz round. I felt it gave me the courage to go back & try. On my first day back I met a lady who had talked about her personal bereavement & she hugged me.

    I am now half way through my second year, I have low days but am slowly managing to live this new life without my Mum. I know attending the Schwartz round helped me to go back into the hospital surrounded by my colleagues who said me of which are feeling the same as I am.

    Anyone who has the opportunity to attend these fantastic events should.

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  • My trust (North Middlesex University Hospital) has run the rounds since March 2015 and it has been greatly received by staff. There is a huge appetite for colleagues to reach out across silos and departments, and hear about each other's experience of dealing with the emotional aspect of work.
    Being a porter and part of the steering group, I sometimes get a chance to speak to panellists and staff who attended the rounds whilst out and about doing my normal duties, and the comment I almost always get is "I always thought I was the only one who felt like that".
    An old school of thoughts when working in an environment where the emotional impact is high, is to leave the feelings at the door when leaving work. What the rounds do, is make it normal for everyone in the organisations to step off the treadmill and take time out to speak about the challenges and joy of their job.
    If you ever have an opportunity to attend, please do, you are not alone.

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