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Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There

24 July 2016

Art Therapist and Vice-Chair of BAAT Council, Nicki Power explores the power of narrative to connect people at Schwartz Rounds, focusing on two pilot sites she is mentoring in Ireland, where there is a strong tradition of storytelling.

The Point of Care Foundation asked Nicki to tell them about her work as a Schwartz Rounds Mentor...

'I remember childhood bed-times. “Tell me a story Daddy!” – The thud of slippered feet up the stairs; sliding under a cold duvet; being tucked in just a little too tight, before we’d begun. My dad would read aloud, giving each character a different voice, bringing the stories to life in my imagination. We seemed to have so much time to share stories – of course I didn’t realise then that stories would become the language of my future career.

Schwartz Rounds give healthcare staff the opportunity to pause in their workplace, to come together without hierarchy and, through storytelling, to re-connect with their humanity.

When I became the Schwartz Round mentor for two organisations in the Republic of Ireland (a hospice in Dublin and a large hospital on the West coast) both instantly connected to the storytellers and understood the power of narrative to unlock emotions. A key theme from both Schwartz Rounds was that of providing a ‘good’ death for the patients in our care.

The impact over time of the “people we carry” was discussed; as some patients stay with us, long after they have died. Stories about listening to patients and at times “bearing with the silence” were shared as clinicians met patient need in ways that could not be noted in care plans. The respect for vulnerability was palpable. “Don’t just do something, stand there!” said a senior leader, stressing the impact of staying present when a patient is distressed or dying, allowing for inaction and time to be still as a valid form of care'...

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As well as a Schwartz Rounds Mentor Nicki Power is an Art Therapist at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, Vice-Chair of the British Association of Art Therapists' Council, and Co-Editor of Newsbriefing

Image: 389 images, CC0 Public Domain