Guest blog by Isabel Vanderheeren, Transformation Lead, Children’s Services, Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council
We in Walsall feel proud to be one of the six local authorities testing the use of Schwartz Rounds in Children’s Services. Schwartz Rounds provide a regular, structured forum for staff to discuss the emotional and social aspect of their work, and fit well with the ethos of our on-going transformation project – ‘Right 4 Children’.
As part of our transformation programme we recognise that staff are our most precious resource, and the work they are doing is often stressful, complicated and pressured. Therefore using Schwartz Rounds to create a safe and nurturing environment where staff have opportunities to share and reflect on their experience with a focus on supporting the wellbeing of staff was a ‘no-brainer’ for us.
We decided that the implementation of Schwartz Rounds needed to have a whole Children’s Services approach. Social care does not work in isolation, so the Rounds could provide us with vital opportunities to connect and build relationships across the teams. We recruited our Schwartz Round facilitators from across the directorate, including of social workers, education psychologists, early help practitioners and transition leaving care team managers.
We have already delivered two strong Rounds with “the family I will never forget” and “I’m still standing” as our chosen themes. The response from staff have been overwhelmingly positive. Staff found the Rounds to be relevant, insightful, well facilitated and supportive in gaining insight into their experience and own practice. Below are some key reflections from social care staff who have taken part:
“The new initiative of Schwartz Round in our work place gives me a real sense of deepening organisational, emotional intelligence, along with an understanding of the traumas and difficulties we have to manage. The Rounds have helped me to understand the experiences and feelings of others and how these also relate to my own experiences. I have been able to process some very difficult issues in work this year and the Schwartz Round really supported this. Other colleagues who attended also commented on the positive impact, so I’m pleased my own trauma outcomes have been of some benefit to the experience of others. There is a sense that in our organisation it is ok to feel things, and ok to have the time to process and work through them with support. I would recommend for any organisation and see it as being an integral part of how we communicate emotions in future.”Social Work team manager
“I found the Schwartz Round very insightful – it took me back to my own work experiences, of times when I have felt like I was drowning as a social worker, but I too am still standing. I believe that everyone should at the very least attend this event once as it offers a safe place to off-load and be heard”Social Worker
“I found the session to be really helpful in establishing that in spite of adversity, we can continue, but more importantly that we are not alone. I consider it offers a ‘place of safety’ in order to share the highs and lows of social work practice and there will be no judgement. I appreciate that at times it is difficult to admit that we struggle, especially in a profession such as social work. I admire the bravery of the people who shared experiences and feelings at the event as it is testament to how they made themselves vulnerable to make being a social worker/manager more empathetic and understanding.”Social Worker
While we’re still in the early stages, in Walsall the Schwartz Rounds have been hugely popular and will continue to play a key part in our Walsall ‘Right 4 Children’ way of working.
What Works for Children’s Social Care is currently recruiting more local authorities or trust to participate in the expansion of the Schwartz Rounds evaluation. Find out more and submit your application.