One in four children’s social workers and one-third of adults’ social workers miss out on monthly supervision, according to a survey by the Social Work Task Force.
Yet most organisations have a policy of holding supervision sessions at least every four weeks for newly qualified staff, directors and senior managers said.
The social workers’ workload survey asked about 1,150 social workers and managers in local authorities and private, voluntary and independent sector organisations to keep time diaries of their working week.
It found one in four managers in children’s and adults’ services were not receiving supervision at least every four weeks, although few managers commented on why this was the case.
Four out of five respondents said their employer had a policy on supervision; the others generally did not know whether one existed.
Overall, social workers spent 26% of their time in direct contact with clients, while 73% was taken up by client-related work.
In its final report published in December, the taskforce said it would expect supervision to be weekly or fortnightly in the first six months of employment. After that, supervision should be at least monthly, with each session lasting a minimum hour-and-a-half uninterrupted.
“Supervision is an integral element of social work practice, not an add-on,” the report said.
“Through it, social workers review their day-to-day practice and decision-making, plan their learning and development as professionals, and work through the considerable emotional and personal demands the job often places on them.”
Social workers reported that their supervision was dominated by case management, action planning and targets, reflecting findings in a recent report by Loughborough University.
Loughborough estimated that it would cost each local authority an extra £9,408 a year to ensure supervision focused on reflective practice as well as case management.