How to support the emotional wellbeing of hospice staff

Categories: Care.

Schwartz Rounds are now running in 37 hospices across the UK. They have helped hospices to create cultures in which the emotional impact of work is openly shared amongst staff.

Schwartz Rounds provide a structured space for all staff in the hospice, including volunteers and those from domestic and catering departments, to come together to share experiences focused on the emotional challenges of working in healthcare. Unlike other forums, they do not seek to change care processes, but offer a purely reflective space for staff to understand the realities of work faced on a daily basis in the organisation.

Hospice staff have felt that by listening to their colleagues, they have developed a greater sense shared purpose and felt less isolated in their work. Rounds also help to reduce hierarchies as staff are not viewed in terms of their professional title or level of seniority, but as human beings with shared emotional responses.  

The report written by my colleague Joanna Goodrich last year showed that hospice staff must feel valued and supported in their work in order to provide compassionate care. Schwartz Rounds foster this sense of support by sharing the challenges of care.    

Topics that have been discussed at Rounds in hospices include: ‘tears at the wedding’ (how it feels to help people to get married who are close to death); ‘why am I here?’ (what motivates staff to work in end of life care?); and ‘the hospice as an island’ (feeling isolated or in a bubble). These topics get to the heart of why staff come to work and strive to do the best for patients despite challenges. 

Positive feedback from hospice staff 

Hospice staff who have attended Schwartz Rounds said:

“I found it very moving and it was useful to hear other colleagues’ insight.  A chance to reflect on the wider hospice rather than just your role. Fantastic!”

“Good opportunity to have a safe place for reflections. Very relevant and good to have so many different members of the hospice”

 “This made me understand that our staff who work directly with patients are more than special.  We are really protected working as part of the administrative team.  It is a privilege to work with so many dedicated people.”

If you are interested in running Schwartz Rounds in your hospice, you will need to apply to The Point of Care Foundation.

The next deadline for applications is 10 February 2017. Applications received before Christmas are eligible for a 10% discount. For more information please contact Esther Flanagan (




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