Effective supervision in a variety of settings
The context for effective supervision: Ways of providing supervision
It is worth noting that different methods of supervision, such as telephone supervision, were mentioned in the practice enquiry.  While we have been unable to evaluate these it would seem sensible to suggest that, if it is part of planned supervision, then the preparation that face-to-face supervision requires should be applied, along with a way of recording the process. It was also noted in the practice enquiry that the availability of a supervisor was important in relation to ‘informal supervision’ as it was seen to support decision-making in real time without having to wait for formal supervision. Whether this is done by telephone or face to face may depend on the setting. However, decisions made during informal supervision will need to be recorded and acknowledged in formal supervision.
The way in which supervision is organised and delivered should be appropriate to task, role and setting. For example, recommendation 12 suggests that: ‘For home care workers, organisations should offer alternative ‘responsive out-of-hours systems’ especially at times of crises and emergencies as well as regular telephone contact in addition to scheduled supervision’. Similarly, in the practice enquiry, one case study noted that supervision was arranged to accommodate shift workers.
Supervisees value a range of supervision methods with one-to-one supervision at the core, since this provides the confidential exploration of practice without defensiveness.
Supervision may be:
- Formal, but unplanned and delivered in response to a crisis. The advantage here is that the supervisor is responding to the supervisee’s immediate needs. Care must be taken to ensure that records are kept and any emerging learning needs brought forward to the next planned supervision session.
- Formal and planned as part of a regular supervisory pattern. This should be at the heart of the supervisory process but, if it is the only method, some of the emotional support and task assistance valued by supervisees may not be available in a timely manner.
- Informal and unplanned, often referred to as ‘corridor supervision’. This is responsive to immediate need but the supervisor may be rushed into immediate decisions and action. Reflection and critical thinking may be absent. There is also a danger that the discussion will not be recorded and supervisors will need to ensure that any issues raised are brought forward to the next formal session.
- Informal but planned, such as arranging to drop in at the end of a planned session to see how things have gone. This may form an important aspect of the support role but care must be taken to record any issues that emerge.
All SCIE resources are free to download, however to access the following downloads you will need a free MySCIE account:
- Effective supervision in a variety of settings
- Service user and carer involvement in the supervision of health and social care workers: seminar report
- Practice enquiry into supervision in a variety of adult care settings where there are health and social care practitioners working together
- Narrative summary of the evidence review on supervision of social workers and social care workers in a range of settings including integrated settings