Supervision Policy and Procedure for Registered Social Workers Employed by London Borough of Merton

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This policy and procedure sets out how supervision will happen for all Practitioners, including locums, in Merton. It explains the processes and requirements for supervision for both supervisors and supervisees and must be followed by all managers who are responsible for delivering supervision.

RELEVANT CHAPTER

Children's Services Policies, Values and Principles

Quality Assurance Framework

Practitioner Supervision: Information and Guidance

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated locally in December 2021.


values

1. Introduction

The aim of this document is to provide clear information for Practitioners and Supervisors on the requirements for supervision. Effective supervision is an integral part of our practice and an important component of the Children's Social Care and Youth Inclusion (CSC & YI) performance management framework. It is a fundamental belief that our staff are the most important asset in fulfilling our responsibility to provide a quality service to children, young people, and families and foster carers. The supervision and development of all staff are significant processes in the success of the organisation.

Supervision is an important right and benefit for all those working in CSC & YI. It benefits the individual, the organisation and indirectly, as part of an intervention, it benefits those we are working with as it supports staff to critically analyse and reflect on their practice and to manage the emotional impact of their work, will result in better outcomes. Linking to appraisal and continuing professional development, supervision should be informed by relevant professional standards for the practitioner.

Supervision arguably has the greatest influence on practice other than the practitioner her / himself. Managers, supervisors and practitioners (supervisees) are jointly responsible for ensuring that supervision meets the requirements as set out in this policy.


supervision

It is mandatory for this policy and procedure to be applied to all social care practitioners working for Merton. Registered Social Workers should receive regular and formal supervision by a supervisor who is also a Registered Social Worker.

Supervision in Merton is undertaken within the framework of Merton's practice model, which is based on an agreed set of values and priorities, keeping the child or young person and the family at the centre of our practice.

The approach is not prescriptive but is informed by psychodynamic and attachment approaches and systemic principles, which promote professional curiosity, use of self, reflection, analytical thinking and is strengths based, whilst recognising and addressing worries, risks and obstacles to progress.

Guidance to specific approaches to systemic supervision are attached in the Appendices.

2. What is Supervision? Definition, Context and Theoretical Framework

Definition

Individual supervision is a regular one to one meeting between the supervisor and supervisee in order to meet organisational, professional and personal objectives.

Context

This policy has been developed within the context of the following:

  • Standards and guidance:
    • Standard 5 of the revised Standards for Employers of Social Workers in England - Effective and appropriate Supervision: The Standards for Employers of Social Workers in England published by the Local Government Association (2020);
    • Knowledge and Skills Statement for approved child and family practitioners, DfE 2014
    • Knowledge and Skills Statements for practice leaders and practice supervisors, DfE 2015
    • The Council's policy and procedures for staff appraisal.
  • Text and research:
    • Morrison, T (2005) Staff Supervision in Social Care: Making a Real Difference to Staff and Service Users, (3rd edit.) Pavilion, Brighton;
    • Morrison, T (2009) Guide to the Supervision of Newly Qualified Social Workers;
    • CWDC/Skills4Care (2007) Providing Effective Supervision: Effective Workforce Development Tool.

      And
  • Merton's Relationship based practice model, utilising the Signs of Safety model for supervision and learning.

Theoretical Framework

This policy, procedure and guidance draws on the work of Tony Morrison and his publication - 'Staff Supervision in Social Care' (2005) - and endorses the approach using the Kolb Experiential Learning Cycle (adapted by Morrison, 2005) often referred to as the 4x4x4 supervision model.

This model has three fundamental elements which together provided an integrated framework for supervision, these are:

  • 4 Functions of supervision - Management, Development, Mediation, Support;
  • 4 Stakeholders in the supervisory process - Service Users, Staff, Organisation, Partners;
  • 4 Stages of the Kolb learning cycle - Experience, reflection, analysis, plans and action.


4x4x4

3. Supervision Definitions

Formal supervision: A formal one-to-one meeting between a supervisee and supervisor to meet certain organisational, professional and personal objectives that promote the best outcomes for service users (Tony Morrison, 2005). All supervision records must give sufficient detail of the discussion to reflect the content of the meeting, identify actions as agreed, timescales and record any disagreements and concerns raised.

Informal supervision: Where management decisions are made based on a discussion, email or phone call between a supervisee and supervisor, and actions and steps are set out to be taken verbally and/or in writing on the child or family's record. This should be recorded as a Management Decision case note.

Management oversight: Where a supervisor or manager reviews a case via discussion or by auditing case files and actions are noted on Mosaic using a Management Decision case note.

Three Way Mirroring Supervision: This model draws heavily from Bowen's family systems theory and the concept that relationships between the child/young person and family, with the social worker and between the social worker and supervisor systems mirror each other. This type of supervision is helpful to consider the style of supervision, improving relationships where there are circular arguments or disjointed shared beliefs. The individual supervisor and supervisee, experience supervision through another lens. This style of Supervision is useful as a second view can progress a stuck situation in relation to casework or personal and professional development.

4. Supervision Agreement

A supervision agreement should be agreed and signed using the template in Appendix 1: Supervision Agreement. This should be signed by the supervisor and supervisee within four weeks of starting the supervisory relationship.

The supervision agreement should be updated according to the changing needs of the supervisee. An example of this may be where the frequency of supervision has been set initially and this changes as the member of staff develops professional competence, confidence and authority in their role. As a minimum, the supervision agreement should be reviewed together annually.

The Supervision Agreement and addressing equalities and diversity can be supported by the supervisee completing 'All About Me' (see Appendix 9: All About Me). This should be agreed between the supervisor and supervisee and is not a requirement.

5. Addressing Equalities and Diversity in Supervision

Addressing equalities and diversity must be an integral part of the supervisory relationship in terms of the:

  • Differences between the supervisor and the supervisee and the impact of this on the supervisory relationship, for example, age, status, gender, ethnicity, experience;
  • Supervisee's practice and service delivery to children and families and or engagement with service users, partners and stakeholders;
  • Supervisor having a responsibility to monitor the work of their supervisee to ensure all practice is compatible with LB of Merton's Equality and Diversity Policy;
  • Supervision promoting anti-discriminatory practice in line with the Equality Act 2010.

6. Expectations of the Supervisor/Manager/Assessor

  • Make sure a supervision agreement is signed and on the supervisee's file (see Appendix 1: Supervision Agreement);
  • Plan for supervision sessions and prepare a draft agenda to be agreed with the supervisee;
  • Maintain confidentiality within agreed boundaries;
  • Make sure supervision takes place in private;
  • Arrange for supervision to be uninterrupted, protected time at the agreed frequency (as informed by the Employers Standards);
  • Explain cancellation and to re-organise immediately;
  • Record the content of supervision and decisions for children, young people and families using the Case supervision template (see Appendix 2: Case Supervision Template);
  • Record a Manager's decision in observations/case note where for specific reasons a child's case might be supervised less frequently e.g., a disabled child who is on a Care Package Review and may only require an annual updated assessment;
  • Record a Manager's Decision case note on a child's record where there has been case direction between planned supervision;
  • To use the Professional Capabilities Framework for Social Work and Knowledge and Skills Statement (2014) to assess capability and performance;
  • Promote the continuing professional development of the Practitioner;
  • To see evidence of good professional practice, skills and knowledge, including routine audit of case files and record this on the supervisee's file;
  • To offer constructive criticism and guidance relating to work issues and CPD;
  • Promote anti-discriminatory practice.

7. Expectations of Supervisee (Practitioner)

  • Ask for immediate management support and oversight when worried about the immediate safety of a child/young person;
  • Make sure child/young person records are up to date and accurate for the supervisor to review as necessary;
  • Evidence the use – as required - of each child's assessment, genogram, chronology and direct work to progress the plan to make positive changes for the child/young person;
  • Attend supervision regularly and on time (if unable to attend, to notify the supervisor);
  • Share responsibility for actively making supervision work including preparing for supervision (i.e. contribute to the supervision agenda, have up to date information about cases);
  • Make sure any actions agreed in supervision are carried out in the agreed timescale, asking for and using guidance, information and support offered by the supervisor;
  • To use the supervision process to critically reflect, think through and explore casework options and accountability;
  • To make sure they receive a copy of the supervision notes within 5 working days of the supervision session;
  • Record case supervision reference on the child's record within 6 working days of it taking place using the correct title; “Sue Brown supervising Bill Jones” and upload the template record to Mosaic;
  • Identify CPD needs, be active in meeting them through a professional development plan and link to evidence in relation to the Professional Capabilities Framework, Knowledge and Skills Statement (2014) and ongoing SWE Registration;
  • Maintain agreed boundaries of confidentiality (by contrast, where good social work practice examples are identified, these should (with consent) be shared outside of the supervision setting (e.g. with the Team) to promote good practice;
  • Promote anti-discriminatory and anti-oppressive practice in all work and through records.

8. Structure, Frequency and Content

8.1 Frequency

Personal supervision - the supervisor and supervisee should agree on the duration and frequency of supervision taking into account experience, the complexity of work and the professional standards to be met. It will be appropriate to arrange for more frequent supervision for staff who are newly qualified, new to Children's Social Care and Youth Inclusion, if there are particular pieces of work which need more time in supervision and Service specific requirements. When supervising newly qualified social workers, team managers must refer to the ASYE Booklet and other ASYE related documents.

Observations of Practice - Merton expects that, in addition to regular supervision sessions, supervisors should carry out at least two direct observations of practice per year. These observations should use Appendix 3: Observation Template (also to be found at Appendix 6B of Quality Assurance Framework) which is based on the widely used and robust 'York Model of Observation'. A record of these observations should be placed on the individual's supervision file. Suitable delegated colleagues can also complete observations.

Caption: frequency of supervision table
   
Staff Member Frequency of Supervision
Qualified Social Work Staff and non-social work qualified staff At least every four weeks for at least an hour and half.
Newly Qualified Social Workers (NQSW's) Weekly for the first 6 weeks of employment, at least fortnightly for the first 6 months, and a minimum of monthly supervision thereafter.

Supervision sessions should be planned in advance with dates fixed for at least 3 months ahead.

In addition to formal supervision, supervisors and other managers will be available for informal case management discussions as required.

Agreed supervision time must be given priority over other activities wherever possible (with the exception of annual leave, sickness or court) and should not be cancelled unless there are exceptional circumstances which affect the core business of the organisation. When supervision sessions have been cancelled, rearranged or are held less frequently than monthly, reasons for this should be recorded.

A Supervision Log, listing dates, should be kept for NQSW's in their Assessed and Supported Year in Employment

8.2 Content

In order to provide supportive supervision the following Standing Agenda items should be included in each supervision session (this should be adapted to include case discussions for social workers or task discussions for non-operational teams as appropriate):

  1. Check-in; general professional/personal welfare and wellbeing, health and safety issues, Leave, absence, TOIL;
  2. Workload management including priorities, targets and action required, including diary/time management;
  3. Review of outstanding issues from last supervision session, and action taken;
  4. Case discussions (ensuring that all cases are discussed on a rolling programme and recorded separately on the correct template for the child/young person's record);
  5. Information giving and clarification (e.g. equalities/anti-discriminatory practice issues; legal requirements, local/national policies);
  6. Professional and personal development (including evidence relating to the professional competency frameworks and career progression where appropriate);
  7. Any other business.

8.3 Location

Supervision should take place in a private room, free from interruption, which is available for the whole of the supervision session.

8.4 Virtual Supervision

While remote supervision can seem daunting, it is important to remember that effective supervision is relational, emotionally literate, reflective and curious regardless of whether there is a virtual or in person connection.

It is important to have emotional space to prepare for supervision and to reflect on feelings, thoughts or work you need to temporarily put aside to move to a calmer, more attentive stage of mind.

Ring-fence time at the start to talk about the process of connecting remotely for supervision. It is important to highlight some of the challenges of supervising remotely. Given that many people are working at home, it is important to acknowledge that there may be unavoidable interruptions.

If connecting by phone it is helpful to acknowledge visual cues will not be seen and if connecting via an online platform both supervisor and supervisee should know how to use it confidently.

9. Case Supervision - Recording and Frequency

All supervision discussions should be recorded on a Case Supervision Record (Appendix 2). Case supervision should follow the minimum frequency for discussion and review of all cases for children and young people. This should be more frequently if this is required due to the particular circumstances such as complexity, need, level of risk and level of pace required. This includes children and young people subject to a Child in Need plan, Child Protection plan, and Looked after Children.

The form follows the Signs of Safety practice framework with guidance prompts about what may be covered in each section. It is not necessary to re-state the Danger/Worry/Needs Statement and Safety/Wellbeing/Stability Goals unless these have changed since the last session. If so, the child/young person's plan should also be updated.

Case Supervision Records should be entered onto the electronic record. For most CSC staff this will be Mosaic and should be entered as a case note – Record of Supervision Discussion. It is not expected that every case will be discussed in reflective detail at each supervision session.

Minimum requirements are:

Caption: Minimum requirements
   
Assessment and Intervention There will be regular management oversight during the assessment process. The first management oversight and supervision takes place at 10 days and then at a minimum of four weekly. Manager and worker should agree which cases they will discuss in detail in supervision.
Child in Need Four weekly, with priority for detailed reflective supervision and/or mapping where cases are complex or 'stuck'.
Child with Disability i.e. No parental concerns, focus is primarily on disability)C Every 12 weeks. See above for children with a disability or are considered 'in need'.
Child Protection/Court 4 weekly.
Children Looked After Every 8 weeks. With Head of Service agreement this can be extended to 12 weeks. Head of Service agreement must be recorded on the child's record with the rationale.
Care Experienced Every 12 weeks.

At least one child/young person/family in every supervision session should be selected for a detailed reflective supervision discussion.

10. Group/Peer Supervision

This can take place using a variety of structured models including case mapping, systemic review, Appreciative Inquiry, peer group supervision including team managers as peers, practitioner meetings and practice learning sets. The CAMHS team in Merton provides Reflective Group Supervision. The Practice Leads, based in Workforce and Practice Development, can also provide this.

Group supervision should be held monthly with a clear framework and providing a safe and supportive environment. Group supervision may be used to complement 1:1 supervision. It cannot be used as an alternative to 1:1 supervision. Where specific children/young people or families are discussed a summary of the discussion with any agreed actions should be recorded on their files by the social worker. See Appendix 5: Group Supervision for guidance on setting up and using group supervision.

11. Recording

On each supervisee's file there should be:

  • A supervision agreement that has been reviewed and updated at least annually as necessary;
  • An annual appraisal;
  • Professional development plan;
  • Evidence of monthly supervision including reflective practice.

Personal supervision - An electronic record of supervision should be completed by either the supervisor or Practitioner (to be agreed in advance) during each session. A Supervision Record Form is attached (see Appendix 4: Individual Supervision Record). This must be used to record topics covered, agree actions, accountability and timescales.

All supervision records should relate to the purpose of the supervision. Personal information about a Practitioner should only be recorded if it impacts on the individual's work, capability and performance or affects the service provision to the service user/customer.

Case discussions

Case discussions and specific actions agreed in supervision must be recorded on the child’s or family’s case file on Mosaic or the appropriate recording system. These discussions must not be recorded on the individual supervisee’s electronic supervision folder. Supervision records of case discussions must evidence why a decision has been made. It is important that all case decision-making is evidenced by reasoning and management oversight on the case is made explicit.

A record of the child's name and Mosaic ID number must be recorded as part of the general supervision record for reference only.

It is the responsibility of the supervisor to record the case discussion using Appendix 2: Case Supervision Template this should then be sent to the social worker to upload to the child's or family's record. As a minimum requirement, recordings of case supervision should be uploaded every 6 weeks (8 weeks for Care Leavers); it is likely that a number of cases would require more frequent review depending on need, complexity, pace and risk.

A summary of group/peer supervision should also be recorded on the supervision template, with reference to mappings and other documents scanned on to Mosaic.

12. Confidentiality

Confidential information is:

  • Personal information of a private or sensitive nature; and
  • Information that is not already lawfully in the public domain or readily available from another public source; and
  • Information that has been shared in circumstances where the person giving the information could reasonably expect that it would not be shared with others.

This is a complex area and you should seek advice if you are unsure and refer to Caldicott Guidelines.

During supervision, the practitioner may give information about themselves or their colleagues that is of a private or sensitive nature. The manager has a duty to respect the privacy of the practitioner, but may wish to confidentially discuss some of the issues raised with their line manager, senior manager or HR. The manager should try and agree the next steps with the practitioner, but should also know their duties to safeguard service users and protect staff under Health and Safety legislation. If failure to disclose the information would place someone at risk of harm, the Manager should explain that they have to pass on the information.

It is important that employees can discuss any aspects of their practice with their manager in a safe environment. Service user confidentiality is not breached by discussion during supervision, although there is a clear responsibility to ensure that supervision discussions take place in a private room rather than a shared office.

Supervision should be used to support and develop practitioners' professional judgment in handling and sharing confidential information.  Managers should make sure that practitioners are aware of their responsibilities regarding confidential information and that they are sharing information effectively, ethically and securely in compliance with Council's Procedures, the Pan London Child Protection Procedures, Pan London Adult Protection Procedures and HM Government, Information sharing: Advice for practitioners providing safeguarding services to children, young people, parents and carers. If training is required, this should be accessed through the Learning and Development Team.

13. Quality Assurance of Supervision

A supervisor's practice will be regularly overseen, and monitored by their line manager through their own supervision process. This will include discussion, audits of supervision records, direct observation and feedback from the supervisees at least every six months. The Supervision QA tool will be entered into the supervisor's file.

The annual survey of staff - will also seek feedback from staff about the supervision process. The outcomes of the survey are analysed and improvements are identified.

14. Resolving Difficulties

In the event of a dispute or disagreement between supervisor and supervisee that cannot be resolved satisfactorily between the two parties, the supervisor’s manager should be informed and a three-way meeting convened. The aim of this meeting is to achieve a satisfactory resolution. Whilst it is the intention to resolve difficulties informally wherever possible (including the use of workplace mediation), all parties should be aware of Merton’s Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures.

15. Evaluation

The Principal Social Worker within the organisation will evaluate the quality of supervision practice on a regular basis and the extent to which supervision standards are met, and report the findings to senior management. This will be done through sampling appraisals, sampling Supervision Records and focus groups undertaken with supervisors and practitioners.