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7.1 Staff Supervision


Supervision Contract

Supervision Notes

Supervision Agenda and Recording non Casework


Section 3 of this chapter, Overarching Principles, was updated in September 2012 to make reference to the Health and Care Professions Council having assumed responsibility for the professional regulation of social workers from the HCPC as from 1 August 2012.  A link was also added to the Professional Capabilities Framework developed by the Social Work Reform Board.


  1. Definition of Supervision
  2. Purposes of Supervision
  3. Overarching Principles
  4. Mandatory Procedures
  5. Responsibilities of Supervisor, Supervisee and Line Manager
  6. Supervision Contract Between Supervisor and Supervisee
  7. Supervision Recording on Individual Child or Family
  8. General Supervision Recording (non casework)

1. Definition of Supervision

Supervision is defined as "a key place for decision making in social care"(Hughes and Pengally) 1997. Supervision will usually take place one to one, and in a planned way but can also include group supervision, observation of practice and examination of records. It can also be a conversation between supervisor and supervisee in response to an unexpected task or event that cannot wait until the next planned supervision.

2. Purposes of Supervision

The purposes of supervision include:

  • To make and review clear and accountable decisions within casework;
  • To ensure good quality case work that maintains a clear focus on the child and operates within agreed standards, timescales, policies and procedures;
  • To offer direction, support, guidance and advice;
  • To provide a protected space within which feedback is given, good work celebrated and mistakes recognised and rectified;
  • To reflect on the personal impact of the work on the supervisee, recognising feelings engendered by casework can be an important tool for decision making, but also to take necessary action to alleviate stress and difficulty;
  • To enable the supervisee to reflect and discuss any personal issues which may be impacting on their working life;
  • To look at the overall workload to achieve a balance between various cases and the skills and abilities of the supervisee;
  • To encourage learning and professional development, recognising the supervisee's learning style and training needs;
  • To promote awareness of the wider social care agenda both nationally and within Portsmouth City Council and ensure there is an understanding between the Business Plans and overall strategy and the supervisee's role and function.

3. Overarching Principles

  • The supervision of Children's Social Care staff will have high priority. Every member of staff has a right to regular planned, recorded supervision;
  • Supervision will operate within the context of Portsmouth City Council's Equal Opportunities policy. Every supervisee is entitled to fair and equal treatment and encouraged to develop and achieve their potential. Any disagreement between supervisor and supervisee in relation to any potential issues of discrimination regarding race, gender, faith, age or disability must be discussed by both parties with the supervisor's supervisor in the first instance;
  • Similarly poor performance will be managed in an open and transparent way;
  • The Health and Care Professions Council (which took over responsibility for the professional regulation of social workers on 1 August 2012) has issued new Standards of Proficiency which replace the HCPC Code of Practice for social care workers). Together with the Professional Capabilities Framework developed by the Social Work Reform Board  these provide the explicit framework of core competencies against which the supervisee's performance will be measured;
  • Supervision of qualified social workers must be undertaken by a suitably qualified practitioner at a senior level who is experienced in casework, including child protection, and who has undertaken some formal training in supervision;
  • Supervision of differentially qualified staff, for example social services assistants, should also be undertaken by a suitably experienced and qualified practitioner;
  • Supervisors are accountable for the appropriate level of decision making, for overseeing the quality of the casework and the achievement of organisational objectives;
  • Within the supervision of staff who are undertaking additional pieces of work, rather than case holding, the overall responsibility for case work decisions rests with the case holder and their supervisor and arrangements must be put in place to ensure that communication between the workers and the supervisors takes place in the way outlined for co-working relationships later in this document;
  • Every supervisee must take responsibility for their own performance and learning, ensuring it is integrated into their everyday practice;
  • The extent and limits of confidentiality within the supervisory sessions will be discussed, agreed and recorded. Situations where there is unmanageable risk to any person, issues of breaches of the law or contract will be reported. It is expected that the Line Manager will have access to the supervisory records and will review the supervision process within their own supervision with the supervisor;
  • A process for handling complaints and disagreements within supervision will be discussed, agreed and recorded. This will usually involve an agreement to involve the supervisor's Line Manager in a 3-way discussion to resolve any issue that the worker and supervisor cannot resolve themselves.

4. Mandatory Procedures

  • Every member of staff will have an individual supervision contract with their supervisor, subject to an annual review. A formal contract confers importance and status to supervision. The contract will detail frequency and duration of supervision, practical arrangements, agendas, content and dates for review. The suggested format is Supervision Contract Between Supervisor and Supervisee;
  • The frequency of supervision will be discussed and agreed between supervisor and supervisee and will take into account the skills, abilities and experience of the supervisee and the level and demand of the work for which they are responsible. Newly qualified staff should have weekly supervision for 6-8 weeks, moving to fortnightly thereafter until the end of their first year. Experienced staff should have supervision 3-4 weekly, with a minimum of 1 and a half hours every 4 weeks;
  • Additional, unplanned supervision will be available to allow for emergencies or pieces of work that require immediate discussion. All decisions from the discussions will be recorded on running record by the supervisor or supervisee and captured at the next formal supervision session recording. Individual supervision should be private uninterrupted time that is a priority for both supervisor and supervisee. Dates and times should be planned in advance and should not be changed or cancelled without an alternative time being made immediately;
  • The supervisor is responsible for recording the content of the supervision. Case Work decisions should be recorded using the agreed format within the Supervision Recording on Individual Child or Family and must be signed by both supervisor and supervisee. A copy should be scanned and placed in the service user's ICS record. All other aspects of supervision should be recorded within General Supervision Recording (non casework) and be placed in the supervisee's personal supervision folder. Supervision records in their entirety should be kept in a confidential place and passed to the next supervisor if supervision arrangements change;
  • The supervisor and supervisee are responsible for jointly drawing up an agenda for supervision and for ensuring this is adhered to within the session;
  • Both supervisor and supervisee have a responsibility to prepare for supervision. This may include drawing together current information on cases, reflecting on current progress and barriers to learning, identifying training needs, reading new policies or procedures, identifying new research or other material which may be relevant;
  • Supervisors should ensure that running records on ICS are read and signed off and that every case file is subject to a minimum annual review by the supervisor and audited using the agreed tool;
  • The content of supervision will cover each of the following topics on at least a quarterly basis, recognising that the emphasis on each will vary according to individual need;
    • Review of case work, ensuring each open case is reviewed at least every two months;
    • Review of the impact of the work on the supervisee;
    • Review of written files and records;
    • Awareness and understanding of relevant research, policy, procedures and standards;
    • Review of individual professional development;
    • Feedback on training and learning opportunities;
    • Review of supervisory relationship.

5. Responsibilities of Supervisor, Supervisee and Line Manager

Supervisor and supervisee share a joint responsibility for the supervisory relationship which should be based on mutual respect and trust and where both feel able to question and challenge assumptions and decisions.

In addition the Line Manager - who may be the Team Manager or Service Manager - is responsible for ensuring:

  • That all members of staff are receiving good quality regular supervision;
  • That training and development opportunities are identified, facilitated and evaluated;
  • That every caseholder and social worker undertakes the mandatory training identified in the Essential Core Skills Record;
  • That supervision records and personal development and action plans are in place, are held confidentially but available, if required, for audit purposes;
  • That all files have been audited by the supervisor on an annual basis, as a minimum;
  • That policies, procedures and standards are effectively communicated;
  • That an open culture of learning and development is promoted, where good practice is celebrated and mistakes are used to learn and develop.

6. Supervision Contract Between Supervisor and Supervisee

Click here to view the Supervision Contract Between Supervisor and Supervisee

7. Supervision Recording on Individual Child or Family

Click here to view the Supervision Recording on Individual Child or Family

8. General Supervision Recording (non casework)

Click here to view the General Supervision Recording (non casework)