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New charity to help NHS address key issues highlighted by Francis report

25 May 2013

A new charity, the Point of Care Foundation, has been set up to improve the experience of healthcare for patients and staff in the wake of the Sir Robert Francis inquiry into the failings at Mid Staffordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

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Sir Robert Francis’ Report of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry, which published in February this year, called on healthcare providers to foster a common culture of putting the patient first and to enhance support for staff providing healthcare.

The newly established Point of Care Foundation has developed out of a programme previously run by The King’s Fund. It will offer practical tools, such as Schwartz Center Rounds®, to help transform the culture of health and care organisations. It aims to become an expert resource, providing information on best practice and evidence of what works to improve patient experience and staff engagement.

The Foundation has already been awarded a grant by the Department of Health of almost £650,000 over the next two years to expand its programme of work.

Jocelyn Cornwell, Director of the Point of Care Foundation, said:

“The need for the Point of Care Foundation is clear. There is a cultural problem at the heart of health care in this country which has been stubbornly persistent, despite the genuine efforts of healthcare professionals to make services more compassionate and sensitive to the needs of patients.

“The failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation trust were an extreme example of what can go wrong when there is a poor organisational culture. But seeing the person in the patient, and supporting staff in the difficult work of care, even when it is delivered on an industrial scale with tight resources and competing demands is always going to be a challenge.

“The Point of Care Foundation has been set up to find, test and deliver practical solutions that can help health and care providers improve the way they offer care. Our first priority is to scale up the support we can offer to organisations that want to do Schwartz Center Rounds®, as they are in great demand. What we are offering is not a panacea, but it is a start.”

The Schwartz Center Rounds®, which were first developed by the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare in Boston USA, involve monthly, one hour sessions for staff from all disciplines to discuss difficult emotional and social issues arising from patient care in a confidential and supportive setting. Evaluation has shown that participants feel this tool helps them to provide patients with more compassionate care, and to feel less stressed in their work with patients.

The Foundation is currently working with 15 NHS organisations. Within two years, with the help of money from the Department of Health, the Foundation hopes to be working with an additional 40 trusts. It has also recently won a contract from Macmillan Cancer Support to promote Schwartz Center Rounds® in their services.

Additional quotes

Marjorie Stanzler, Senior Director of Programs for the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, said:

“We are so pleased that the NHS has made Schwartz Center Rounds a central part of its strategy to improve the patient and caregiver experience. This is an exciting validation of our work. Our Rounds program has been changing the culture in more than 320 hospitals and other healthcare facilities throughout the United States, and we are confident that it will usher in similar changes in the UK.”

Chris Ham, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund, said:

“The Point of Care programme has played an important role in encouraging the development of high-quality, patient-centred care. I am delighted that, through the programme, the Fund piloted and evaluated the pioneering Schwartz Rounds to support NHS staff in providing compassionate care.

“We wish Jocelyn Cornwell and colleagues well in continuing this and other important work through The Point of Care Foundation.”

Jagtar S Dhanda, Head of Patient Experience of Macmillan Cancer Care, said:

“The Point of Care Foundation will be working with Macmillan Cancer Support to promote and establish Schwartz Center Rounds across a variety of settings. We are delighted that this programme will enable us to further improve the experience of healthcare for people with cancer, their family and friends, as well as the staff who care for them.

“The people who treat and care for people affected by cancer are diverse – it’s not just nurses and cancer specialists but dieticians, pharmacists, physiotherapists and many more. Getting communication right across all these groups can be a challenge, but by working with the Foundation will no doubt help to make it better.”

Notes to editors

Schwartz Center Rounds® were developed by The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare in Boston Massachusetts, USA. They were developed following the tragic death of Ken Schwartz, who died in 1995 from lung cancer. He was 40 years old and a seemingly healthy non-smoker. Prior to his death, he set up the Schwartz Center to nurture compassion in healthcare and to encourage healthcare workers to make “the unbearable bearable” through “the smallest acts of kindness.” See www.theschwartzcenter.org for further information.

Jocelyn Cornwell, Director, founded The Point of Care programme at The King’s Fund in 2007. She has worked in research, as a senior manager in NHS community health services and in health regulation, first at the Audit Commission, where she directed national value for money studies and audits, and then at the Commission for Health Improvement (CHI) where as the director of policy and development she led the design of the first national programme of clinical governance reviews. She is a Visiting Professor in the Department of Medicine at Imperial College, London and a trustee of the Picker Institute Europe.

The Point of Care Foundation has been established to spread and build on the work that was originally supported by The King’s Fund from 2007-13 to improve patients’ and families’ experiences of care. The Fund was always committed to piloting and evaluating Schwartz Center Rounds in the NHS, with a view to having them ‘rolled out’ elsewhere if proven to be successful. In 2009, The King’s Fund began a pilot to test and evaluate whether Schwartz Rounds would translate successfully to the NHS. Since then, the Fund has worked with 20 organisations to carry out Schwartz Rounds to support staff. Now that the Rounds are established, the Fund decided to allow another organisation to take forward a more widespread implementation.

For further information please contact – 0203 841 5570