Taking care of those who look after others s“
‘Amazing hour together with my work family, I will definitely think more about everyone’s roles and jobs and how they might be dealing with terrible, or sad or difficult scenarios…’
These were the words of one participant following a Schwartz Round held recently in Our Lady of Lourdes hospital in Drogheda.
Schwartz Rounds provide an opportunity for staff to reflect on the emotional aspects of their work. They create a safe space which can be very emotionally charged. Rounds have been shown to impact on staff wellbeing, resilience and support which ultimately influences patient experience of care. The feeling created at a Schwarz Round is one of calmness, which can best be described as a gathering of souls that all connect on an emotional and spiritual level.
Different panellists each month generously share their personal insights of connections with others - colleagues, patients and family members - and of the bonds that are created on a human level with every human connection. One panellist urged us to always remember to not be afraid to display appreciation of people in your life that support and nurture you. One of the deep learning for me was that as professionals we tend to quickly decide what a patients needs and wants without truly listening to them...We heard the story of a man struggling to communicate following a stroke: his real intention in mastering the alphabet board was not to ask to sit out, to go for a walk but to express to his wife that he loved her.
Another panellist shared the experience of reducing a patient’s anxiety though sitting with him and taking the time to listen to him to be in his presence. It was only as he approached his death that he confided that he believed she reminded him of his former love, the one who got away. Her gentle presence with him helped to calm his spirit and brought him the serenity to face his death at peace with the world. Hospitals are exceedingly busy places, but it is important for everybody to take the time to connect in the moment, to reflect, to make full use of all your senses as you navigate your day.
Sharing of these beautiful stories has meant that Schwartz Rounds have become a way of life in Co Louth hospitals. So popular are the rounds, that staff instigate the descent on the RCSI Building 30 minutes before round begin to secure a place in the limited 100 seat auditorium.
97% of staff surveyed found the Schwartz Rounds beneficial with 98% stating that they would recommend them to a work colleague. Some of the staff feedback included:
‘I found this an extremely emotional session. We really need to look after one another (which we don’t do). We can be very unaware of one another and we have no idea what they may be going through’.
‘Very moving, we all need to recognise that no matter what our role is, we all need to talk and listen’.
‘Very powerful!! It really makes me reflect and to realise that it is so important to find joy even in the most difficult of times’.
Attending Schwartz Rounds can be experienced as both supportive and transformative. Staff report a decreased feeling of stress and isolation, improved team work and interdisciplinary communication, increased insight into social and emotional aspects of patient care and confidence to deal with non-clinical issues relating to patients and changes in departmental or organisation wide practices as a result of insights that have arisen from discussions within the Schwartz Rounds.
Credit must be extended to Juanita Guidera and her team in Quality Improvement Division for supporting the training of staff through the Point of Care Foundation and to the hospital management in the Louth Hospitals for openly welcoming the introduction of this experience for staff. Finally, to Dr Aisling O Gorman (Clinical Lead), Ciaran Conlon and Louise Carolan (Facilitators) and their background committee for giving of their time to provide such a beneficial support to the wellbeing of their colleagues.
Schwartz Round in Our Lady of Lourdes hospital has proved a great success