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New Year, new programmes, same goal

Bev Fitzsimons 11 January 2022

Bev Fitzsimons gives an overview of our revised programme structure


The keener-eyed among our community may have noticed some changes to the programmes on our website. Our aim is to reflect better the full scope of the work we are doing. At the heart of all our work lie the dual, interrelated purposes of making care truly patient-centred and supporting staff so that they are able to deliver compassionate care. But our work under both of these umbrellas has diversified over time, and we need to reflect that so that our work is better understood and more accessible.

Patient Experience

In the area of work we have referred  to as the ‘Sweeney programme’, we primarily used to offer support in two key methodologies – Experience based co-design (EBCD) and Patient and Family Centred Care (PFCC). Since then, we have moved beyond the confines of the original programme. A major change in the last three years has been the development of the Foundations in Patient Experience course – now a well-established accredited qualification with well over 200 alumni working in health organisations around the country.

Until recently the Foundations in Patient Experience course occupied its own niche within the structure of our work. But as our relationships have deepened with many of the organisations we work with, the boundaries between the different aspects of our patient experience work began to blur. We have offered ‘bespoke’ versions of the Foundations course to organisations we are working with our other methodologies, for example. Looking ahead, we will be carrying out all our work relating to patient experience under a single banner, with partner organisations able to negotiate which elements of all of our programmes best meet their needs.

Staff Experience

For over ten years now we have been providing training and ongoing support for Schwartz Rounds, but this work has expanded substantially. Before the pandemic we had begun to offer developments such as ‘pop-up rounds’ to address challenges, such as the difficulty of ward-based staff finding time to leave the ward to attend Rounds (essentially, taking Rounds to them). During the pandemic we responded to the immediate need for emotional support with the introduction of TeamTime (an online adaptation of Rounds) and diversified the ways in which Schwartz Rounds can be delivered.

Amidst these developments, we have remained committed to ensuring the integrity of the Schwartz Rounds model which, as well as being effective in reducing psychological distress, provides safety for participants. As we now consider the totality of our work, we want to be clear about what activities fall within the Schwartz Rounds methodology, and what falls outside. So, we have renamed what used to be our Schwartz Rounds programme to a broader Staff Experience programme. Schwartz Rounds remain at the programme’s core, but we want to be clear that other activities we undertake, to support staff wellbeing and compassionate organisational cultures, are not necessarily ‘Schwartz’ activities.

Implementation Support

Our final programme is Implementation Support. This represents a more in-depth way of working, where we look to support whole organisations or groups of organisations to embed patient and staff experience practices to improve patient-centred care over a longer period.

We have seen the impact this work can have at a system level, opening up opportunities for greater numbers of staff to benefit from the supportive culture that Schwartz Rounds bring to organisations. And we have seen how working within an organisation at all levels – ‘from board to ward’ – can help to put patients and families at the heart of everything an organisation does. So, our third programme is a means by which we can use our expertise across both staff and patient experience, to seek wider-reaching impact.

If you’d like a better sense of what Implementation Support is like in practice, we’d point you to our work supporting Alder Hey hospital with its system-wide improvement programme ‘Brilliant Basics’.

The overall purpose of the initiative is to ensure that the basics of care are done brilliantly, every day, with every member of staff empowered to improve services for children and young people, and with families also feeling that they are part of that journey.

The Point of Care Foundation was commissioned as a partner to the programme and we have supported the organisation to embed patient-centred quality improvement and great practice in involving children, young people and families. This approach has impact beyond what can be achieved through an individual Patient Experience project, because it takes place across a whole organisation. Working in this way enables us to take a blended approach, deploying different methods according to an organisation’s needs: whether this is for support for executive teams in developing their involvement strategies, through “train the trainer” approaches to patient centred improvement, through to ad hoc support for particular “mission projects” for the trust. The Foundation’s team is agile and flexible, adapting as the work develops and unfolds.

Jennie Williams, Head of the Quality Hub at Alder Hey says:

The team at the Point of Care Foundation have offered positive challenge and flexible support to us throughout our Brilliant Basics Quality Improvement journey at Alder Hey.  Bringing in the evidence base and real-life examples has helped us to put children, young people and families’ experience and involvement for improvement into context in a paediatric setting.”

Unchanging goal

How we label our work, of course, changes very little in terms of the ways in which we hope to continue to work with all our partners. We remain a small, dedicated team, supported by a superb network of associates. All of us remain deeply committed to our mission to humanise care, and whether our work with you falls under our Patient Experience, Staff Experience or Implementation Support headings – humanising care for your staff, patients or service users remains our ultimate goal.