The information in this post was taken from the webinar of Terry McCarthy of Impact for Children Ltd.
The webinar examined:
- The current context of safeguarding in terms of practice and the role of supervision
- The requirements of supervision
- Ways in which supervision can be effective in developing practitioners to meet the best interests of children
Context of Safeguarding
The NAREY Report (Feb 2014) – Key messages
- There is a need for standards from HCPC and College of Social Work/Social Work Reform Board to be brought together
- Supervision is essential to social workers and for best outcomes for families
- Managers face a lack of time – leading to difficulties fitting in supervision
- Supervision is lacking for many social workers, leading to mistakes going unchecked
- Complex cases require in-depth manager consideration
Impact of Pressure and Stress on Practitioners
- High sickness, stress and demoralisation
- Loss of proportionate, balanced, flexible, reflective and creative thinking
- Being risk averse, defensive and less open to challenge and criticism
- Less effective engagement with families, particularly those who are difficult or challenging
- Under or over reliance on managers
- Finding security in processes and straightforward tasks
- Oversights and misjudgements
Components of Supervision
- Frequency is 4 weekly (2 weekly during probation period) and for 90 minutes in a suitable venue
- Significant supervision is offered ad-hoc/unplanned
- All cases are discussed and progress monitored
- Recorded – on supervision file/ICS
- Actions from previous SV are reviewed
- Ensures continuing professional development, with annual appraisals
- Considers caseloads
- Offers direction and guidance
- Ensures key activities are being undertaken
- Addresses performance and conduct issues
- Monitors and supports
Requirements of Supervision: What Do Practitioners Want?
Acknowledgement and empathy about difficulties/pressures/conflicts/ challenges, not feeling alone in a crisis, emotional impact recognised.
Use of procedure/policies, suggestions and ideas about how to proceed, good feedback, clarity about expectations, advice on cases.
Continuing professional development, having a purpose and focus, skills/knowledge/experience improving, feel as though they are making a difference to children’s lives, taking on challenging work, trying new approaches, developing creative and reflective thinking.
Clarity on planning, having a manageable caseload, avoiding unnecessary paperwork/processes, help with prioritising pressures.
3 Types of Problems
Based on Rittel and Webber Tame/critical/wicked model
Straightforward, sequential and regularly encountered – able to use standard operational procedure.
Immediately threatening problems which require decisive and clear action e.g. a fire alert. Responds well to commands, with a strong need to control and follow accepted procedure. No place for discussion or reflection.
Multi-faceted, unique, only with the solution can you fully understand the problem – requiring a number of interlocking elements and constraints to be understood and addressed in combination and these can twist and turn – an art and a science.
To Address Complex Problems Requires:
- High levels of reflection, creativity, perseverance, tenacity
- High levels of support and leadership
- Continuous consideration/discussion
- Ability to work with uncertainty and anxiety
- Decisions in a context of emerging information
Ensuring Best Outcomes
In all cases, ensure that process/task lead to a clear
- understanding of the family and impact on the child
- planning to address the root problems and risk factors
- evidence of progress in addressing the root problem and risk factors
If no progress with reasonable timescales consider a different plan, including legal action.
Skilled and Confident Practitioners
- Detailed appraisals based on Professional Capability Framework
- Encourage practitioners to identify their own answers and assist them to recognise areas requiring further consideration
- Balance between direction/results and discussion/exploration
- Develop strategies for recognising and overcoming stress, anxiety, overwhelm
- Highlight good practice
- Ensure regular supervision takes place which considers all cases (6 mins per case!)
- Identify cases requiring more detailed discussion – involve wider participation
- Consider balance between ad-hoc and formal supervision (being flexible and structured)
- Time is limited – so use it purposefully