Supervision Policy

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter describes Gloucestershire's Children Services arrangements for the professional and children's case supervision of all social work practitioners and managers.

AMENDMENT

This policy was amended in October 2020 when Section 4, Child's Case Supervision was revised.

1. Introduction

The purpose of this document is to ensure a consistent approach to supervision throughout Children's Services, which supports and motivates staff, encourages reflective practice and monitors performance and targets set at appraisal, thereby linking with Council aims and objectives and in doing so enhance the quality of staff performance in providing services to our customers.

The policy is underpinned by the standards of proficiency for social workers in England set out by the Health and Care Professionals Council in particular, section 11:

“11. Be able to reflect on and review practice

11.1 understand the value of critical reflection on practice and the need to record the outcome of such reflection appropriately

11.2 recognise the value of supervision, case reviews and other methods of reflection and review”

and:

  • Meets the Local Government Association Standards for Employers of Social Workers in England by:
  • Ensuring that social workers have regular and appropriate social work supervision that:
    • Challenges practitioners to reflect critically on the children and families they are working with and foster an inquisitive approach to social work.
    • Is based on a rigorous understanding of the key elements of effective social work supervision, as well as the research and evidence which underpins good social work practice.

Supervision is a process in which the supervisor enables guides and facilitates the social care worker's development and need for support, in meeting certain organisational, professional and personal objectives. This occurs during formal prearranged meetings and in less formal day to day discussions about children and their families, termed here as management oversight. Development and support needs of supervisees should be addressed. The records of supervision should enable a child to understand the reason for provision of services if s/he accesses his/her file.

2. Brief Overview of Different Types of Supervision and Management Oversight

2.1 Professional Supervision and Child's Case Supervision

In most occasions' professional supervision and children's case supervision will take place during the same session, but have separate elements and are recorded separately. At all times supervisors and supervisees hold individual and joint responsibility to ensure purposeful and effective supervision takes place.

At other times there will be 'Management Oversight' and decision making.

2.2 Management Oversight

Ad Hoc discussions or decisions are likely to be needed between planned case supervision sessions on a case by case basis, and may result from unexpected changes of circumstances or new incidents. Where as a result of this discussion, activity is planned or decisions made which diverts from the plan, these discussions and decisions should be recorded on the child's record. It is the manager's responsibility to ensure accurate and timely recording of Management Oversight.

2.3 Group Reflective Supervision

All teams will hold monthly group reflective supervision using the group reflective supervision tool. See Section 7, Reflective Practice.

2.4 Newly Qualified Social Workers

During the Assessed and Supported Year of Employment (ASYE), the supervision for newly qualified social workers will be tailored to their needs, but there will be increased supervision alongside protected time dedicated to learning and development. Newly Qualified Social Workers will also have a reduced case load as set out in the ASYE handbook.

3. Professional Supervision

3.1 Professional Supervision

Professional supervision is a formal process that provides professional support to enable social workers to develop their knowledge and competence, be responsible for their own practice, and promote children's outcomes and safety. Professional supervision must enable, challenge and support workers to build effective professional relationships, develop good practice, and exercise both professional judgement and discretion in decision-making.

Professional supervision differs from child's case supervision in that this considers the needs of the worker. The following are examples of what should be considered in these discussions and this is set out in more detail in the Professional Supervision Template:

  • Training needs;
  • On-going development needs;
  • Constructive and supportive feedback;
  • Performance management issues;
  • Annual Leave/ sickness issues/TOIL;
  • Personal issues.

Supervision should be booked in as detailed below using electronic booking arrangements wherever possible, and should be planned so that both parties are aware of the dates for the year ahead.

  • Four weekly for social workers and their line managers;
  • Four weekly for IROs and CP conference chairs, and their line managers;
  • Eight weekly for staff without any case holding responsibilities (i.e. 'involved' workers);

Newly appointed or newly qualified staff, or staff in their probationary period, are likely to require more frequent supervision and supervisors should take care to agree frequency in the early months of appointment and review thereafter.

Supervision standards include as a minimum:

  • A child's case discussion should take place within 8 days of case allocation/transfer and should be recorded as a case supervision;
  • During the assessment period following contact, a supervision will take place related to each child after 8, 20 and 40 days (if the assessment is still ongoing at this point);
  • Planned and regular supervision will be provided according to the agreed timescales;
  • Sufficient time will be allowed to enable a quality supervision to take place;
  • All supervision will be recorded;
  • Practitioners are required to prepare for supervision by identifying areas for discussions in advance.
  • Names of personal details of children and their families will not be recorded in Professional Supervision notes, however ID numbers may be used;
  • Disagreements should be recorded together with proposed activities to resolve or escalate as required.

3.2 Recording of Professional Supervision

Professional supervision should be recorded on the professional supervision template. Given this may hold confidential information this should be typed up by the team manager, signed by both parties and kept in a confidential space agreed by both and recorded in the supervision contract (either on GCC's P drive or printed off and kept in a locked cupboard).

3.3 Confidentiality and Retention

If a paper record of the supervision is kept then it must be kept securely. A copy of the record should be provided to the supervisee, who should also ensure the record is kept securely. Hard copies should be agreed, signed and dated by the supervisor and supervisee. When the member of staff moves post or ceases employment, these records should be transferred to new manager or archived (Business Support will assist).

Electronic records should be provided to the supervisee to give the supervisee an opportunity to comment and amendments made as required. The e-mail trail will serve in lieu of a signature.

There are circumstances where it may be necessary for supervisors to discuss information gained from supervision with senior managers. Supervision records may be released for the purpose of monitoring the quality of supervision, or used as documentation in disciplinary or legal proceedings. Supervision records are the property of Children's Services. Where issues of a personal nature, to the member of staff, are contained within a supervision record, the confidentiality of such material should be protected in line with the Data Protection Act.

The supervisee may keep a record of supervision as part of any continuous professional development portfolio. Any record should avoid personal identification of service users or third parties, as service users may be able to apply for access to such records under the Data Protection Act. Supervisees should ensure that supervision notes retained are electronically secure, or if paper records are held, they are kept secure and confidential.

4. Child's Case Supervision

4.1 The Purpose of Children's Case Supervision

The purpose of children's case supervision is to improve outcomes for children by:

  1. Identifying and enabling clear and effective management of risk (risks to child, family, staff member, and organisation);
  2. Establishing a clear understanding of accountability.
  3. Being challenging and inquisitive as to the progress and management of the case, taking responsibility for ensuring progress is achieved in order to assist the child to reach his or her potential.
  4. Facilitating reflective practice, using the resources available on the Research in Practice website;
  5. Confirming that the welfare of the child is paramount and that their wishes, views and feelings have been ascertained, taken into consideration and recorded.
  6. Ensuring that the parent(s)/carer(s) views have been sought, taken into consideration and recorded.
  7. Evidencing that the child's voice has been heard and listened to, ensuring the child's journey has been tracked and wherever possible that the child has contributed to the assessment, planning, review and decision making.
  8. Ensuring that the provision of services promotes the ethnic, cultural, racial, gender, religious, identity, disability and language needs of the child and family.
  9. Reviewing and monitoring workload management to identify if the supervisee has adequate time and knowledge to meet the needs of the child.

4.2 Introduction

Children's case supervision should take place as a minimum expectation according to a clear time schedule whenever a social worker is allocated to a child or young person, as outlined below.

The frequency of case supervision can however be increased at the supervisor's discretion or at the request of the supervisee, depending on a number of considerations including, but not limited to, the complexity of the case, level of presenting or escalating risk and experience of the allocated social worker. The supervision monitoring tool can be used as an aide to monitor the frequency of case supervision.

At other times outside of a scheduled case supervision session there are many reasons why a team manager and allocated social worker will have a practice discussion or the team manager will review the child's electronic record (Liquid Logic).

Supervising team managers must maintain supervision and management oversight records. The following policy guidance clarifies the practice expectations for supervisor and supervisee in respect of the frequency and recording expectations for case supervision and management oversight:

4.3 Policy Guidance

  1. At the point of allocation and transfer, a practice discussion should take place to address plans for assessing and supporting the child's needs, risks and circumstances. The practice discussion should take place between the team manager and allocated social worker for all children on the day they are being allocated or transferred. The practice discussion should be recorded and added by the team manager as management oversight to the case note section of the child's electronic record (Liquid Logic. The team manager should prepare the management oversight in accordance with the Essentials 2.0 Programme for Management Oversight.
  2. Supervision should take place within the first 20 working days of the referral and assessment start date. Supervision should be recorded in the forms section of the child's electronic record (Liquid Logic).
  3. Whilst a child is being assessed, management oversight should be completed periodically on working day 8, 20, 30 and 40 of the assessment time scale to promote the safety and wellbeing of the child, provide feedback and guidance for the social worker and address any risk of drift or delay. Management oversight should be added to the case note section of the child's electronic record (Liquid Logic) by the team manager using the Essentials 2.0 Programme for Management Oversight.
  4. A management oversight record should be added to the case note section to highlight a supervision record if the supervision has incorporated the 8 or 20 working day review of the assessment. Supervision should not replace a management review of the progress of the assessment at working day 8 or day 20 but it can be incorporated within the supervision to enhance the thinking, reflection and direction of the assessment and direct work with the child during the assessment period.
  5. Where an allocated child is the subject of a Child Protection Plan the social worker should receive case supervision on a four-weekly basis (minimum frequency).
  6. Where an allocated child is the subject of Care Proceedings, and/or is a Child in Care with an outstanding Permanence Plan, the social worker should receive case supervision on a four-weekly basis (minimum frequency).
  7. Where an allocated child is the subject to a Child in Need Plan, the social worker should receive case supervision on an eight-weekly basis (minimum frequency), this should include children in need known to the Disabled Children and Young People's Service (DCYPS) but exclude children whose only involvement with Children's Services is due to their families having no recourse to public funds (NRPF).
  8. Where a child is a Child in Care and subject to a Care Order following care proceedings, the allocated social worker should receive case supervision on a four-weekly basis and once the Permanence Plan is agreed on an eight-weekly basis (minimum frequency).
  9. Where a young person is a Care Leaver, the social worker or personal advisor should receive case supervision on an eight-weekly basis (minimum frequency).
  10. Where a child is receiving short breaks, and there are no other concerns relating to the child's safety or welfare, the allocated social worker should receive case supervision on a 3-monthly basis (minimum frequency).
  11. For an adopted child where adoption support is being provided through a contracted service and there is no other involvement, the allocated social worker should receive case supervision on a 3-monthly basis (minimum frequency).
  12. In any one reporting year (April 1st to 31st March) the supervising team manager should arrange to undertake two practice observations for all case holding social workers. Examples of practice observations may include a home visit, presentation at a child protection conference, statutory child in care review, child in need review, attendance at court care proceedings or direct work with children and families. Team managers should ensure that the date and details of the practice observation are recorded as part of the following supervision record.
  13. In cases where more than one member of Local Authority staff is involved with the child, joint supervision should be considered and undertaken whenever it is helpful, efficient and effective to do so.

4.4 Recording of Child's Case Supervision

The child's case supervision record will be recorded in the supervision form found within the forms section of the child's record within LCS and is evidence that there has been supervisory oversight, guidance and endorsement of the practice, quality, decisions and service. This is important for case audits, serious case reviews, management performance information, case load management, appraisals and service user access to records to ensure that the child's story is understood. Disagreements should be recorded together with proposed actions to resolve or escalate disagreements.

The expected standard is that the case supervision is recorded at the time of the supervision meeting. If this is impossible the supervisor should record the supervision within 1 working day.

At the subsequent case supervision meetings the supervisor will check the contents of the last 'case supervision' and review with the practitioner, confirming if the tasks were completed and cross referencing with evidence on the child's file.

4.5 Confidentiality and Retention

All children's records, including 'case supervision' notes and 'management oversight and decision notes' are the child's record, and care should be taken to ensure that written records are clear, and written with the knowledge that service users may wish to access records.

5. Management Oversight

Ad Hoc discussions or decisions are likely to be needed between planned case supervision sessions on a case by case basis, and may result from unexpected changes of circumstances, new incidents or where a manager identifies that a different course of action needs to be undertaken. Where as a result of this discussion, activity is planned or decisions made which diverts from the plan, these discussions and decisions should be recorded on the child's record. It is the manager's responsibility to ensure accurate and timely recording of Management Oversight.

Further management oversight will be achieved through case conferences, resource panels and case file audits. These arrangements provide increased focus to ensure progress on improving outcomes, provide challenge and leadership and prevent drift. All staff are responsible for highlighting changes in circumstances or other concerns which increase risk through ad hoc case discussions with their line manager and in these circumstances should not wait for case supervision. Discussions and decisions held with supervisors between planned case supervision meetings should be recorded in case notes in the child's file. It is the responsibility of the supervisor to accurately record Case Discussions, Decisions and Management Oversight.

Tips to enable the capture of management oversight include:

  • Using Outlook to plan for scheduling oversight;
  • Keeping a log to hand of oversight;
  • Recording the evidence of the direction of the plan;
  • Recording the rational of decision making.

6. Dedicated Supervision for Conference Chairs

In order to promote a quality assurance and reflective learning process to assist in case progression and risk management and ensure timely and decisive action is taken to reduce the number of children subject to a child protection plan for more than 12 months without a clear plan to either escalate or de-escalate, the Child Protection Conference Team Manager will arrange a dedicated supervision with the conference chair, for each child six weeks prior to the Review Child Protection Conference at month 9.

The Child Protection Conference Team Manager and Conference Chair will jointly review each child in supervision prior to the 9 month Review Child Protection Conference (RCPC) to enable effective decision making at the 9 month RCPC. Where concerns have been raised and not been resolved, the conference chair's Team Manager may invite the allocated social worker and team manager to the dedicated supervision in order to jointly review the child's case.

The focus of the dedicated supervision is the following:

  1. Is the Child Protection plan effective in safeguarding the child/ren? If not what needs to change?
  2. What is working well?
  3. Is any immediate action required / case escalation?
  4. Is there evidence that the Core Group is driving the plan? If not what needs to be addressed at the forthcoming Review Child Protection Conference (RCPC) and how should the plan be developed? The Child Protection Conference Team Manager and conference chair should agree how these issues will be addressed at or prior to the forthcoming RCPC;
  5. Is there evidence that PLO or care proceedings should be considered?
  6. Is there evidence that it may be possible to end the child protection plan?
  7. Are there any issues regarding practice that need to be raised with the operational Team Manager and Head of Service?
  8. Are there any issues regarding multi-agency working that need to be addressed at the RCPC and /or raised with the Head of Quality Assurance and Safeguarding?

The Child Protection Conference Team Manager will record the outcome of the discussion in the Conference Chair's supervision notes, record these as oversight/decision making on Liquid Logic and also monitor the impact of these reviews over 12 months, producing an overview report on a six monthly basis for the child's record. The Child Protection conference team manager and Conference Chair will ensure any issues of concern / drift / delay are addressed with the relevant Team Manager and Head of Service in advance of the RCPC to enable effective decision making and progression of the case within the RCPC.

7. Reflective Practice

Reflective thinking should be part of every supervision session. It should enable the Manager to obtain a clear understanding of a child, particularly where plans are not progressing and management direction might need to change. It should assist the supervisee to gain insight into their practice and seek support if they require it.

Reflective supervision is required as stated within our Practice Standards but also should be considered whenever the child needs it depending on their status or the level of our intervention.

Group reflective supervision – Teams should be engaged in one group supervision per month and this should be led by the Advanced Practitioner or Team Manager and should take place at least once a month. These reflective supervision sessions must be captured and recorded on Liquid Logic. The actions from these sessions should be incorporated into the child's main plan.

Simply put, reflection should capture the following points using the anchor principles:

What is the story?

This is where the supervisor elicits a clear description of the 'story', what the worker is experiencing and what they have observed, by asking questions and seeking clarity.

What does this mean for the child?

The supervisee is encouraged to explore the feelings evoked by the story or experience and think about what this might mean for the child, family or themselves. Without this, subtle yet important clues to family functioning (dynamics within families) and the dynamics between families and professionals might go unrecognised.

Consideration needs to be given to niggling doubts, the potential for over-optimism and disguised compliance, and the child and family's capacity and readiness for change. Discussion should take place on what is going well and what is going not going so well and should explore the following points and questions:

  • Hypothesising;
  • Consider Over-optimism and disguised compliance;
  • What are the niggling doubts;
  • What is the capacity to change;
  • What is the analysis of the risks and strengths.

Chronic neglect has devastating effects on children and the causes of neglect need to be identified and addressed or legal advice sought on thresholds for care proceedings where there is no sustained improvement to the child's circumstances. Therefore supervising managers must consider the need for regular review of the home conditions, review of chronologies and the cumulative impact of neglect over time on children. Managers should additionally ensure that the Neglect Tool has been used to help with this analysis.

When considering whether care proceedings are needed, the Jones Model should be used to evaluate whether sufficient evidence has been gathered to support the threshold for care proceedings for a child.

All teams will hold monthly group reflective supervision using the group reflective supervision tool.

What needs to happen?

The supervisor and supervisee need to evaluate their perceived knowledge and beliefs about the case. They need to make judgements and decisions based on observations, evaluation of information, available evidence, wider experience, reflection and consideration to relevant research.

Where critical thinking and critical reflection have occurred, realistic and safer plans can be developed. Actions can be explained and justified. SMART plans should be developed with timescales and contingency plans also considered and agreed. Most importantly, the required outcomes for the child should be clearly stated.

How will we know we are making progress?

When clear outcomes are stated during the course of planning, it is then straightforward to measure progress against these outcomes. Reflective practice should look at each outcome individually, whether it has it been achieved and if not, why not?

Model for Reflective Thinking

Click here to view the diagram for the Model for Reflective Thinking (Tony Morrison 2009).