Skip to content

2018: The year in review

19 December 2018

As 2018 draws to a close, we take a look back at some of the year’s highlights from across our programmes

Topics and programmes


We began 2018 with a focus on our national conference, which we held in March, attracting 100 delegates from across the care spectrum including patients, care staff and healthcare leaders. After the event we published a set of blogs including this from our chief executive Jocelyn Cornwell:

What is human healthcare? – Jocelyn Cornwell

Here we take a look back at some of the highlights from 2018 across our work:

Schwartz Rounds

In 2018 we reached the milestone of 200 organisations participating in Schwartz Rounds in the UK and Ireland. Among participating organisations we have seen the continued uptake of pop-up rounds, a new model developed to make Rounds more accessible by taking Rounds out to staff on wards.

With the publication of final report from the National Institute of Health Research evaluation of Schwartz Rounds, we saw the first hard evidence of the benefit of Rounds – or indeed any intervention designed for staff alone. The research found that regular participation in Rounds reduced the incidence of psychological distress by half, compared with non-regular attenders.

Early in the year we ran community events in January and February, with approximately 200 Schwartz facilitators and clinical leads gathering in London and Manchester. The programme has seen some changing faces, with Aggie Rice leaving at the end of the summer. We are pleased to be welcoming Farhana Nargis as our Programmes Manager in the new year. Julian Groves, our Head of Finance and Resources, has taken on the role of Head of Staff Experience programmes.

Addressing the emotional realities of the job: compassionate care for the NHS workforce – Shilpa Ross and Laura Bennett

Sweeney Programme

In 2018 we ran 12 programmes, at which 31 different organisations were represented. Approximately 300 individuals received training in patient/client-focused improvement methods.

We have worked in areas including end-of-life care, neonatal care, maternity care, outpatients, operating theatres, care of people with eye problems, reproductive care, and services for people with drug and alcohol problems, among many others.

We completed our end-of-life care collaborative, funded by the Health Foundation, with 16 organisations in the 2018 cohort. In a follow-up survey six months after the programme, a majority of participants said they intended to continue using the methods that were taught as part of the programme. Fourteen completed final project reports from the 2018 cohort identified 133 specific improvements to both patient, family and staff experience.

We currently have 25 active Sweeney projects in progress, in which teams from England, Norway and the USA are applying the programme’s methods to make tangible improvements in practice.

Looking ahead, the next cohort of our end-of-life care programme is taking shape and due to begin early in 2019; we also announced a new collaborative on paediatrics in partnership with Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool. We are excited about a partnership with the Vermont Oxford Network (VON), an international network of neonatal units, based in the USA. During 2019 we will be delivering co-design webinars to VON members – the first time our EBCD methodology will be applied in a large-scale programme.

Dying Matters: living well to the very end – Bev Fitzsimons

‘What matters to you day’ – starting conversations that can transform care – Bev Fitzsimons and Joanna Goodrich

HOPE network

We gathered together HOPE network members at six meetings during 2018, including regional events in Taunton and Cambridge, and our best-ever attended event with 65 participants, in London in December. Meetings covered a range of issues including patient data, the friends and family test and staff engagement. The network continues to grow, and meetings are popular and well attended. Compared with other networks the members are very actively involved.

We launched our Foundations in Patient Experience course during 2018, with the first cohort meeting in March and the second in November. A third will run in early 2019. Feedback from participants has been very positive, with more than 90% of students finding the course ‘very relevant’ and ‘very useful’. We are grateful for support from NHS Improvement which is part-funding places and making it easier for individuals to take part.

We published a new set of resources on using patient data to drive improvements in care quality. This accompanies our two other resources toolkits, on EBCD and PFCC (the Sweeney methodologies) which continue to attract high levels of use.

How do we make patient experience data more useful? – Louise Locock

In other work

Along with many others, we have been campaigning to get workforce issues higher up the agenda for national and local decision-makers. We contributed a chapter to the ‘Priorities for the Plan’ report on the future of the NHS, and published our own reports on staff engagement and medical professionalism. We feel that the approaches to staff wellbeing that we promote are an important part of the solution to the current challenges.

“You will make mistakes – and that is normal” – Joanna Goodrich

How do trusts engage with their ‘most important asset’? – Jocelyn Cornwell