Nurse researchers are to investigate whether a US initiative that provides emotional support to healthcare staff could tackle the controversial issue of compassionate care by making the NHS workforce happier.
A team, led by researchers from the National Nursing Research Unit at King’s College London, is to carry out a three-year evaluation of Schwartz Centre Rounds.
The study aims to uncover to what extent participation in “Schwartz Rounds” impacts on staff wellbeing at work, relationships between staff and patients, and levels of compassion – a key buzzword for the government regarding nursing policy.
“Schwartz rounds bring all staff together regardless of profession or speciality on an equal footing”
Conceived in the US, they are a multidisciplinary forum where staff meet once a month to discuss the psychological, emotional and social challenges of their work.
The Francis report into care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust highlighted the positive impact Schwartz rounds could have, based on their early use at around 15 NHS trusts and in the US.
The Department of Health subsequently announced a £650,000 grant last May to expand their use across the health service over two years. They are currently being implemented in 60 organisations in England, including acute and mental health trusts and hospices.
NNRU director Professor Jill Maben will lead the new study into their “implementation, effectiveness and impact on care delivery and patient experiences of care”.
“What’s unique about Schwartz rounds is that they bring all staff together regardless of profession or speciality on an equal footing, to share their stories and experiences, their motivations and the different challenges they face in practice every day,” she said.
“They appear to provide an important space for staff to detail the highs and lows of their work and gain support and insights from colleagues,” she added.
The study will build on the results of a small pilot published by the King’s Fund think-tank in 2009, where participants at two UK hospitals reported benefits for day-to-day patient care and teamwork.
Jocelyn Cornwell director of the Point of Care Foundation, a charity which provides training and support on Schwartz rounds, said: “Interest in them has grown hugely in the last three years and we are pleased that it is now possible to conduct a robust evaluation of their effectiveness.”