The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the relationship between patients and caregivers and preserving the human connection in healthcare. The Center reflects the vision of Ken Schwartz, a Boston healthcare attorney who died of lung cancer at the age of 40 and found that what mattered to him most as a patient were the simple acts of kindness from his caregivers, which he said made "the unbearable bearable." He founded the Schwartz Center in 1995 to ensure that all patients are treated with compassion. The Center is housed at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where Ken received his care.
Through its National Consensus Project on Compassionate Healthcare, the Schwartz Center is bringing together patients, caregivers, policymakers, educators and researchers to better define compassionate care, develop best practices, and disseminate them to healthcare organizations across the U.S.
The Center's goal is to ensure that compassionate care is a fundamental element in the design of health systems, the provision of care, the measurement of quality and outcomes, and the education of all healthcare professionals.
Compassionate care is fundamental to the practice of all healthcare professions. It is characterized by effective communication and emotional support, mutual trust and respect, and involving patients and families in healthcare decisions. At its core, it means treating patients as whole people, not just illnesses.
A growing body of research demonstrates that compassionate care is critical to quality healthcare. For example, compassionate care has been associated with:
The Center's signature program, Schwartz Center Rounds®, allows caregivers from multiple disciplines to come together on a regular basis to discuss the most challenging emotional and social issues they face in caring for patients. An independent evaluation has found that participation in Rounds promotes compassionate care, improves teamwork and reduces caregiver stress and isolation. The program has also led to more patient-centered healthcare practices and policies in many healthcare institutions.
Since 1997, the Schwartz Center has awarded more than $2 million in grants to nonprofit organizations throughout the U.S. to fund innovative projects that strengthen patient-caregiver relationships in the areas of communication, cultural competency, spirituality and end-of-life care. In 2013, the Center awarded $110,000 in grants to support projects to improve communication around end-of-life care.
This award is given annually to a New England caregiver who displays extraordinary compassion in caring for patients and families. The winner receives a cash prize of $5,000, and four finalists receive $1,000 each. All five are honored at the Kenneth B. Schwartz Compassionate Healthcare Dinner in Boston, one of the largest healthcare events in New England. Since the program began, more than 1,200 caregivers have been nominated for this prestigious award and 70 have been honored.
Through this program, grateful patients have the opportunity to honor their caregivers by making a contribution to the Schwartz Center in their names. The Schwartz Center sends caregivers a certificate on the donor's behalf honoring them as a compassionate caregiver. Caregivers' names are then added to the Compassionate Caregiver Honor Roll on the Schwartz Center's website. More than 1,500 caregivers have been honored since the program began.
Each year, the Schwartz Center offers educational programs and events to raise public awareness of the importance of compassionate care:
* Please note that pie charts are net of $1.3M in donated services and event expenditures.
Read about our most recent accomplishments in our 2012 online annual report, including the progress we are making in the areas of thought leadership, programs, grants and more.
The Schwartz Center is an autonomous, nonprofit organization operating under the 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status of the Massachusetts General Hospital. Its independent Board of Directors has complete discretion over the Center's budget. The Schwartz Center relies on tax-deductible charitable contributions from foundations, corporations and individuals to carry out its work.