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Reflections on Supervision…

By Lucy Hopkins, Head of Practice

Recently, Dave Wareham, Head of Services, and I delivered Supervision training to a group of senior family support workers from the London Borough of Haringey. Not only was it great for us to have a day out of the office, but visiting local authorities and meeting Social Care staff is always interesting and informative when it comes to thinking about practice issues.

In reflecting about the training course, it reminded me just how important supervision is, not only to social workers but to all Social Care staff who are involved in the lives of children, families, and vulnerable adults.

Social Care staff working in children’s services manage complex family and individual issues on a day-to-day basis, and, have to provide a high level of service to their service users, often dealing with challenging and emotional subject matters. For this reason alone supervision is so important to ensure that they are provided with the necessary support, guidance, and space to be able to reflect on their practice to learn and develop for the future. Supervision allows the services provided to be monitored, practitioner performance to be managed, and the opportunity for personal growth and development to be explored, all within the safe space of a supervision session with a manager who is able to create the necessary environment for those things to be achieved.

With the ever increasing demands placed on Social Care staff, supervision becomes even more important, and whilst it can be tempting to prioritise other matters and tasks, it really is necessary for supervision to retain it’s priority for supervising managers. As a manager, if you want your staff to perform to the best of their abilities, to deliver a high-quality service to children and families, and be fully equipped to deal with increasing pressures and workloads, it is imperative that you ensure they receive regular and consistent supervision, where they have the opportunity not only to talk about their cases but also use the time for reflection. Your staff will be no good to you, the organisation, or children and families if they are on sick leave or burnt out, and good quality, regular supervision can assist in minimising the risk of these things happening.

Supervisees need to feel listened to, supported, valued, and that their supervision time is prioritised and considered to be important to their manager and the organisation as a whole. Supervision time needs to be uninterrupted so that both the supervisor and supervisee can use the time constructively and really focus on what is being discussed, without being distracted by other matters or other people. Some of these things can be set out in Supervision Contracts so that both the supervisor and supervisee are aware of their expectations and the expectations of the other; it is a useful tool that does not need to be completed and put away in a file, but can be revisited and looked at to help everyone get the best out of supervision.

As Social Care staff we want the best for the children and families with whom we work. We invest time in providing them with support and helping them to make positive changes in their lives, and we want them to receive the best service from us, our colleagues, and our organisation as a whole. They deserve the best service from us and for the staff who work with them to be appropriately supervised and afforded the time and space they need as practitioners to learn, develop, and reflect, in order to continue providing families with a high-quality service.

Lucy Hopkins, Head of Practice
Working Together For Children

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