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6.2 Multi-Agency Standards for the Supervision of Staff

AMENDMENT

In May 2016, amendments were made to this chapter including an additional bullet point was added in Key Messages for Organisations which states staff have opportunities through office working arrangements, team meetings, team supervision events etc. to regularly discuss cases of concern and access peer support.


Contents

  Introduction
  Key Functions of Supervision
  Key Messages for Organisations
  Supervision Agreements
  Key Messages for Supervisors
  Key Messages for Individuals Receiving Supervision
  Appendix 1: Definition of Supervision
  Appendix 2: Supervision Agreement (Example)


Introduction

‘Professionals should be given sufficient time, funding, supervision and support to fulfil their child welfare and safeguarding responsibilities effectively." (Working Together 2015, Chapter 2:Organisational Responsibilities).

All agencies which have operational responsibility for safeguarding / child protection services must have an agreed policy, which defines minimum levels of formal supervision of those staff that are accountable for safeguarding and child protection cases.

Supervision can be defined as:

‘’an accountable process which supports, assures and develops the knowledge, skills and values of an individual, group or team. The purpose is to improve the quality of their work to achieve agreed outcomes.’’ (Providing Effective Supervision, Skills for Care and CWDC 2007, page 5).


Key Functions of Supervision

The key functions of supervision are:

  1. ‘Management (ensuring competent and accountable performance/practice);
  2. Development (continuing professional development);
  3. Support (supportive/restorative function); and
  4. Engagement/mediation (engaging the individual with the organisation)’ (Working Together 2010, Paragraph 4.49 - now archived).

‘For many practitioners involved in day-to-day work with children and families, effective supervision is important to promote good standards of practice and to supporting individual staff members. The arrangements for organising how supervision is delivered will vary from agency to agency but there are some key essential elements. It should:

  • Help to ensure that practice is soundly based and consistent with LSCB and organisational procedures;
  • Ensure that practitioners fully understand their roles, responsibilities and the scope of their professional discretion and authority; and
  • Help identify the training and development needs of practitioners, so that each has the skills to provide an effective service’. (Working Together 2010, Paragraph 4.50 - now archived).

All child protection cases must be regularly discussed in supervision and case files/records audited systematically by the responsible manager.

‘Good quality supervision can help to:

  • Keep a focus on the child;
  • Avoid drift;
  • 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’. (Working Together 2010, Paragraph 4.51 - now archived).

Supervisors should be available to practitioners as an important source of advice and expertise, and may be required to endorse judgments at certain key points in time, which should then be recorded within the case records.

On some occasions - e.g. enquiries about complex abuse or allegations against colleagues, agencies must consider the provision of additional individual or group staff support. Managers must develop local policies and systems to maximise staff safety including the need to carry out risk assessments as appropriate.


Key Messages for Organisations

Every organisation should ensure the following are in place:

  • A clear supervision policy, with practice that supports the policy - This should include a clear statement of the purpose of supervision and why it is important to the organisation, including how it contributes to positive outcomes for users of services. It should also include clear statements about:
    • Frequency;
    • Recording;
    • Expectations of supervisors and supervisees; and
    • Agendas for supervision sessions.
  • Effective training of supervisors;
  • Strong leadership and 'walking the floor' by senior managers;
  • Staff have opportunities through office working arrangements, team meetings, team supervision events etc. to regularly discuss cases of concern and access peer support;
  • Performance objectives for supervision for all supervisors;
  • Monitoring of actual practice – frequency and quality.


Supervision Agreements

Managers/Supervisors may wish to consider having a written agreement with each person they supervise. In some organisations this may be called a supervision contract. The detail may be standard across an organisation or there may be scope for individual elements to be agreed. An example of a written agreement is included in Appendix 2: Supervision Agreement (Example). The agreement should be reviewed periodically to ensure that all elements are being covered and that the agreement is still fit for purpose.

It is important that all supervision discussions are properly and promptly recorded so as to maximise impact, support completion of agreed actions within agreed timescales and to avoid any confusion or disputes.


Key Messages for Supervisors

Being a supervisor is a significant responsibility and one which needs to be taken seriously. Your organisation and the individuals you supervise expect you to provide supervision that is:

  • Based on a written agreement or contract;
  • Planned well in advance and only changed in exceptional circumstances;
  • Well-structured, allowing both you and the individual to contribute to the agenda;
  • Provided in an appropriate setting and free of interruptions;
  • Inclusive of all the functions outlined in the unit of competence;
  • Properly and promptly recorded, with notes copied to the individual.

Guidance from Working Together 2015:

These organisations should have in place arrangements that reflect the importance of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, including:

  • A designated professional lead (or, for health provider organisations, named professionals) for safeguarding. Their role is to support other professionals in their agencies to recognise the needs of children, including rescue from possible abuse or neglect. Designated professional roles should always be explicitly defined in job descriptions. Professionals should be given sufficient time, funding, supervision and support to fulfil their child welfare and safeguarding responsibilities effectively;
  • Appropriate supervision and support for staff, including undertaking safeguarding training:
    • Employers are responsible for ensuring that their staff are competent to carry out their responsibilities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and creating an environment where staff feel able to raise concerns and feel supported in their safeguarding role;
    • Staff should be given a mandatory induction, which includes familiarisation with child protection responsibilities and procedures to be followed if anyone has any concerns about a child's safety or welfare; and
  • All professionals should have regular reviews of their own practice to ensure they improve over time.


Key Messages for Individuals Receiving Supervision

Supervision is an important right and benefit for all those working in social care and children’s services.

It is the main way in which your organisation monitors and reviews your work but also ensures you are properly supported and continue to develop your skills. It is therefore important that you are fully involved and make the most of the opportunities that supervision offers. In particular you should:

  • Prepare for each supervision meeting by reviewing notes from the previous meeting and thinking about the things you want to raise and discuss;
  • Be ready to share your thoughts and ideas in the meeting;
  • Be open about what has gone well and what you have found difficult;
  • Be ready to plan and undertake training and other development activities as agreed with your supervisor;
  • Check and read the notes of your meetings and make sure you follow through and complete any actions as agreed.


Appendix 1: Definition of Supervision

‘Supervision is a process by which one worker is given responsibility by the organisation to work with another worker(s) in order to meet certain organisational, professional and personal objectives which together promote the best outcomes for service users’ Morrison 2005.

  • Ensure practice is soundly based and consistent with LSCB and organisational procedures;
  • Ensure practitioners fully understand their roles, responsibilities and scope of professional discretion and authority;
  • Help identify learning and development needs to support the skills to provide an effective service Keep focus on the child;
  • Avoid drift;
  • Maintain degree objectivity, challenge fixed views Test and assess evidence base for decisions Address the emotional impact of the work Reflective process;
  • Scrutinise and evaluate the work Coaching and pastoral support Source of advice and expertise Endorse decisions;
  • Educative and supportive Explore feelings Structural process.

Children's Workforce Development Council (2007).


Appendix 2: Supervision Agreement (Example)

Click here to view Supervision Agreement (Example).

End