QUALITY IN PRACTICE: Improving supervision
The Social Work Reform Programme is overseeing the development of a national set of universal and binding supervision standards for employers in England. These will form part of a national standard for employers, ensuring that social workers are properly supported to provide high quality practice.
Social workers and employers can take action to improve supervision across teams in the meantime:
Schedule into team meetings the opportunity to review the elements and performance criteria that make up the unit and discuss how they should be interpreted.
Explore as a team the strengths and weaknesses of current practice and prioritise areas where generally practice could be developed. Draw up a supervision improvement plan for each team member.
Use the unit in supervision to pick up on individual practice so everyone in the team has a personalised improvement plan attached to their supervision contract.
At the end of a supervision session reflect on the process together using the effective supervision standards as a point of reference. Remember to give positive feedback but encourage critical reflection. Look at different performance criteria in each session or if you have a clear area for improvement then focus on that.
Have long term plans for steadily improving supervision. In particular give time to the bigger challenges for any team, e.g. “Ensuring work with people who use services is outcomes-focused and that their views are taken account of in service design and delivery”.
Apply the standards to the supervision of managers as well as to staff and follow a similar process of developing understanding, reviewing and auditing practice and planning for improvement as outlined above.
The above guidelines are based on a step-by-step guide on providing effective supervision, produced by the Skills for Care and the Children’s Workforce Development Council
Taken from Effective Leadership and Management in Health and Social Care, by Ivan Gray, Keith Brown and Richard Field , published in March 2010 by Learning Matters. To order a copy at the special reader offer of 15% discount, visit www.learningmatters.co.uk and enter the voucher code LM25. Alternatively, call 0845 230 9000 quoting the same code.
This article is published in the 1 April issue of Community Care magazine under the heading Improving supervision