More than a quarter of social workers said they received no supervision at all on a weekly basis, despite the emphasis placed on it by managers and senior colleagues.
Those who took part in the exclusive survey valued supervision greatly. But many were disappointed by the level of supervision they received.
Nearly one-third (31%) felt the amount of supervision was inadequate for their caseload.
Nearly three-quarters (72%) said they wanted a minimum of one hour a week to discuss cases with their supervisor, with 18% believing they should have at least two hours. In reality, 60% received an hour per week, with 12% receiving two or more.
During supervision sessions, only one in five always had enough time to analyse information, with half saying this was “sometimes” the case. The main barrier was time constraints (72%); 38% blamed a lack of direction from their supervisor.
John Nawrockyi, of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services’ workforce development committee, described the statistics as “disappointing”. “It’s essential for social workers to have a sounding board,” he said, “particularly those working on complex cases or newly qualified professionals.”
Unison and the Association of Directors of Children’s Services suggested the problems were linked to recruitment and retention difficulties.
The Unison spokesperson said caseloads needed to be reduced to manageable levels, while Eleni Ioannides, vice chair of the ADCS’s workforce development committee cited a lack of experienced social workers able to provide supervision and those aspiring to become managers.
Ioannides said “thorough and thoughtful support” from management was essential in such a challenging job.