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17.5 Children and Families Reflexive Supervision Policy

This policy sets the framework for the Children and Families Division to implement an effective and consistent approach to social work and social care supervision practice.

Supervision and appraisal are the most important ways of ensuring that staff deliver a high standard of service, carry out their duties according to policy and procedures and meet departmental and divisional targets. Supporting staff through supervision helps to improve working practices and contributes to better service delivery and outcomes.

In order to deliver the very best services across children’s services we need the very best workforce who are well trained, highly skilled and passionate about their role.

High quality supervision is one of the most important drivers in ensuring positive outcomes for children and families who use our services. It has a crucial role to play in the development, support and motivation of the staff.

For supervision to be effective it needs to combine a performance management approach with a dynamic, empowering and enabling supervisory relationship.

The full policy is set out below:


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Policy Statement
  3. Policy Aims
  4. Scope of the Policy
  5. Definition and Functions
  6. Core Values and Principles
  7. Responsibilities
  8. Methods
  9. Confidentiality
  10. Recording
  11. Quality Assurance / Audit
  12. Administrative Staff

    Appendix 1: C&F Division Supervision Record

    Appendix 2: C&F Division Supervision Agreement


1. Introduction

This policy sets the framework for the Children and Families Division to implement an effective and consistent approach to social work and social care supervision practice.

Supervision and appraisal are the most important ways of ensuring that staff deliver a high standard of service, carry out their duties according to policy and procedures and meet departmental and divisional targets. Supporting staff through supervision helps to improve working practices and contributes to better service delivery and outcomes.

In order to deliver the very best services across children’s services we need the very best workforce who are well trained, highly skilled and passionate about their role.

High quality supervision is one of the most important drivers in ensuring positive outcomes for children and families who use our services. It has a crucial role to play in the development, support and motivation of the staff.

For supervision to be effective it needs to combine a performance management approach with a dynamic, empowering and enabling supervisory relationship.


2. Policy Statement

The Children and Families Division will provide supervision to social work and social care staff in accordance with the contents set out in this Policy. This is recognized as a key method of ensuring that the division delivers its statutory responsibilities. It is also critical in ensuring the delivery of safe, high quality care and plays an important part in the ongoing development of a competent workforce.


3. Policy Aims

This 4 main aims of the policy are to define:

  1. The scope of the policy;
  2. The definition and functions of supervision, its core principles and values;
  3. The rights and responsibilities of managers and staff in respect of supervision;
  4. The means by which the practice of supervision will be qualitatively assessed and monitored.


4. Scope of the Policy

This is a mandatory policy. It applies to the supervision of all social work and social care staff within the Children and Families Division. Social work/social care staff include:

  • All social work staff (including managers, NQSW’s on the assessed and supported year in employment);
  • All social care staff which includes:
    • Managers in CRCs;
    • Senior RSWs;
    • RSWs;
    • Supporting Families Team staff (other than social workers or therapists);
    • Therapists;
    • Participation officer;
    • Participation Support Worker;
    • Seconded staff.

It also applies, in the main, to administrative staff. Any differences in how the policy is to be interpreted for administrative staff is noted in the text. See also paragraph on Administration Staff in Section 12, Administrative Staff.


5. Definition and Functions

The C&FMT have agreed that supervision is:

A process by which a manager is given responsibility by the organisation to work with another worker in order to meet certain organisational professional and personal objectives. These objectives or functions are:

  • Competent accountable performance/practice;
  • Continuing professional development;
  • Personal support;
  • Engaging the individual with the organisation.

    (Adapted from Harries (1987) Richards & Payne (1990) and Butterworth and Faugier (1994))

The aim of supervision is to:

 “Effectively manage and supervise staff to support effective practice and good conduct and supporting staff to address deficiencies in their performance”. (General Social Care Council handbook.)

There are four interrelated aspects to supervision:

Accountability 

Accountability is a three way process: the supervisee to the service users of C&F; the supervisee to the supervisor; both supervisee and supervisor to the DHSC. This Function covers: objectives; tasks; priorities; workloads; reflection and analysis of cases/tasks; case/task decisions and recording.

Professional Development 

The professional development function of supervision acknowledges the importance of continuous professional development. This can take many forms – from formal academic qualifications to accredited courses to attendance at conferences and workshops through to reading and being up to date on evidence informed practice and the latest research.

Support and Challenge

Working with children and families who are vulnerable, in need of care and protection and/or Looked After can be a stressful experience. The role of both staff and managers can feel isolating. When this happens, the quality of the work of individuals can suffer as can the outcomes achieved by children and families. Support is crucial, therefore, to the supervision process. Challenge is important to ensure that the highest of standards are maintained.

Reflexive Space

Supervision gives the opportunity to provide reflexive space in which:

  • Acknowledgement and help can be given to process the strong emotional and moral responses that can be generated by the social work task and that by processing feelings, a richer layer of observations can be revealed;
  • Feelings can be explored, patterns and connections arising from the experience can be unveiled;
  • Skills are promoted to recognise common elements in different practice situations by reference to the extensive memory bank of cases and experiences which the worker has built up over time, is crucial.

Concluding Remarks

In conclusion, good quality supervision helps to avoid drift; keep a focus on the child; maintain a degree of objectivity and challenge fixed views; test and assess the evidence base for assessment and decisions; and address the emotional impact of work.


6. Core Values and Principles

There are a set of core values/principles which underpin the policy:

  1. The quality of supervision has a direct bearing on the quality of service delivery and outcomes;
  2. Supervision must ensure the effective management of practice, develop and support staff and promote their engagement with the organisation;
  3. All staff, irrespective of their role, have the right to receive high quality supervision which meets the intent of this policy;
  4. All staff have responsibility for the quality of their own work and, to this end, should prepare for and make a positive contribution to the supervisory process. They are not passive recipients;
  5. Senior managers/managers have a responsibility to promote good supervision by implementing this policy and ensuring that training is provided for both supervisors and supervisees;
  6. Senior managers need to conduct regular audits to ensure that this policy is being implemented;
  7. All practice must be consistent with relevant Codes of Practice.


7. Responsibilities

Supervision is a process not an event. It entails preparation, open discussion and the implementation of decisions. Both supervisors and supervisees have a responsibility to contribute positively to this process.

Supervisees will make a substantial contribution to the quality of their supervision by:

  • Making suitable preparation for meetings through the preparation of an agenda and identifying up to one third of the caseload for discussion. These will be those cases which the supervisee thinks needs most discussion, actions or decision. The whole caseload should be discussed over a 3 month cycle;
  • Preparing for discussion the random sample of cases chosen by the supervisor;
  • Ensuring that decisions agreed within supervision are carried out in a timely manner and evidenced in the Protocol record where appropriate;
  • Identifying development and support needs;
  • Highlighting areas of learning in relation to his/her own professional development.

The supervisee has a responsibility to keep the supervisor informed of urgent developments and to seek out advice and guidance outside of formal supervision meetings when required and to record the outcome of same. In addition, the supervisee has responsibility to implement guidance given on such occasions.

Supervision is expected to be provided monthly to social work/social care staff (include part time workers), is not subject to cancellation and is only postponed in exceptional circumstances. It is the responsibility of the supervisor and supervisee to ensure that any postponed session is reconvened at the earliest opportunity and in all cases within 2 weeks of the cancelled session. (If this is not possible due to long term absence or extended leave then this should be recorded). If any exceptions to the monthly arrangement are being proposed, a full rationale should be sent to the Principal Social Worker for endorsement. Frequency of supervision for administrative staff will be based on experience and need.

Supervisors will make a substantial contribution to the quality of supervision by adhering to this policy. They are expected to provide the notes of supervision within 5 working days to the supervisee.

Service Managers in each service area are responsible for ensuring the effective implementation of the policy within their respective areas including the identification of a named supervisor for each member of social work and social care staff. Administrative staff have bespoke arrangements and named managers who are responsible for supervision arrangements.

Team Managers are responsible for implementing the policy within their teams.

The C&FMT are responsible for ensuring that audits of supervision are carried out and, subsequent to the findings that relevant action follows.


8. Methods

The principal method of supervision for practising social workers, social care staff and administrative staff is reflexive one-to-one supervision by a suitably qualified manager.

Other methods include group supervision and, in some special circumstances, clinical supervision.


9. Confidentiality

Supervision sessions are, in general confidential exchanges between supervisor and supervisee. However, the supervision record is an organisational document which may be seen by others for e.g. audit, reviews of practice, inspection purposes, where there are grievances or disciplinary proceedings and where a manager provides cover in the absence of a line manager without the consent of the parties involved. Case discussions and decisions need to be recorded on the child’s case file. They will be referenced only briefly in the supervision records.


10. Recording

Supervision should always be recorded in a timely manner and in such a way that the content and decisions can be readily understood and audited. All notes of individual supervision should be signed as agreed records at the end of a session or within 10 working days (Appendix 1: C&F Division Supervision Record).

The supervision agreement should state how supervision will be reviewed, including feedback about quality and helpfulness (Appendix 2: C&F Division Supervision Agreement).

Written notes should be maintained by the supervisor with a copy for the staff member. Where other staff are providing aspects of supervision/mentoring this should also be recorded and forwarded to the supervisor. The supervisor will hold a copy of all supervision records in the supervisee’s supervision file.

In addition, records of any decisions (where appropriate) on cases discussed in supervision will be retained on the clients Protocol record. Where peer, group or joint supervision occurs there should be clear arrangements for recording the same and adding the record to the supervisee’s personal file. It is the supervisee’s responsibility to record any (appropriate) case-related decisions on the Protocol record. They should make it clear with whom they have consulted, especially if a decision is made outside of formal supervision meet or involves another manager.

Each supervisor will keep a Supervision File of supervision records to be maintained throughout an employee’s career. These must be kept in a secure place. These will remain the property of the organisation. Supervision records are subject to the division’s retention policy. Managers will keep an record of supervisions planned and taken place, together with reasons why any planned sessions have not taken place and the reassigned dates proposed, on the supervision file. Supervision files must include the supervision agreement, supervision records, individual job description and personal specification, records of training and any PDR/Annual Appraisal. (An electronic password protected supervision file is acceptable).

Where an employee changes jobs within the department, or the supervisor changes, it is the responsibility of both staff member and the previous supervisor to ensure transfer of supervision records to the new supervisor.


11. Quality Assurance / Audit

Quality assurance is the responsibility of all staff involved in the process.

The line manager should always include discussion on record keeping with all staff who are being supervised by them. Records of all such discussions (as part of supervision) should be available to senior management for audit purposes. The line manager/supervisor should read a sample of the supervisee’s case records on a 3 monthly cycle to ensure adherence to policy and the quality of work undertaken. From this s/he should select a number of cases to review in supervision. Notes should be made on the Protocol record of decisions that have been made in supervision. In some cases, all cases held by a social worker, social care staff will be subject to discussion in supervision.

Seniors managers/ line managers are also responsible for assuring the quality of supervision and the performance of their staff. To this end they will audit on an 18 month cycle a small random sample of service user records and supervision records to ensure adherence to policy and the provision of high-quality supervision.


12. Administrative Staff

In general terms the principles in this policy apply equally to administrative staff but will be adapted by supervisors to meet the unique needs of administrative staff. The regularity of supervision may be less frequent than for social work staff but should not be less frequently than quarterly. The matters discussed will reflect the job role but may include a discussion where relevant about any impact of material that has come to their attention in the course of their duties. The main headings of the Supervision Record will apply and should be used to record items relevant to the job role.


Appendices

Click here to view Appendix 1: C&F Division Supervision Record.

Click here to view Appendix 2: C&F Division Supervision Agreement.

End