Effective supervision in a variety of settings

About this guide

The guide is based on research and practice knowledge from all five sources that SCIE’s good practice materials normally draw on. The evidence base consists primarily of a summary of the available evidence (SCIE Research briefing 43); a practice enquiry; a seminar report; and evidence presented by key stakeholders in the Project Advisory Group.

Practice enquiry

A practice enquiry is a 'made to order' structured or semi-structured original enquiry into aspects of current practice in health and social care. This practice enquiry aimed to:

SCIE's 2009 guidelines for practice enquiries list the limitations of this approach, stating that a practice enquiry cannot:

Peer review

The practice enquiry was peer reviewed internally by Dr Deborah Rutter. It was reviewed externally by Dr Trish Hafford-Letchfield at the University of Middlesex and Suzanne Hudson, Workforce Senior Advisor, Local Government Association.

About SCIE research briefings

SCIE research briefings provide a concise summary of recent research into a particular topic and signpost routes to further information. They are designed to provide research evidence in an accessible format to a varied audience, including health and social care practitioners, students, managers and policy-makers. They have been undertaken using methodology developed by SCIE. The information on which the briefings are based is drawn from relevant electronic databases, journals and texts and, where appropriate, from alternative sources, such as inspection reports and annual reviews as identified by the authors. The briefings do not provide a definitive statement of all evidence on a particular issue. The SCIE research briefing methodology was followed throughout (inclusion criteria; material not comprehensively quality assured; evidence synthesised; and key messages formulated by author).

Scoping and searching

Focused searching was carried out between January and March 2012. The searches looked for empirical studies on the association between the process of supervision and outcomes for people who use services, workers and organisations. Searches addressed both children’s and adults’ social work and social care, including joint and integrated settings.

SCIE Research Briefing 43: Effective Supervision in social work and social care identifies empirical studies that report on the association between the process of supervision and outcomes for people who use services, workers and organisations. Intervention studies are included. The methods used to identify and organise material in this briefing were developed by SCIE. These involved undertaking systematic and reproducible searches of the research literature, identifying relevant studies and assessing their quality. Empirical data were extracted using a structured pro-forma which focused on various outcomes of supervision.

Peer review and testing

The briefing was peer reviewed internally for methodology. It was peer reviewed externally by Professor Marion Bogo, Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto, Canada.

Guidance from the advisory group

The advisory group felt that there was a significant gap in the evidence regarding people who use services and that their voice was being lost in the existing research. They suggested convening a seminar to bring together people who use services and some practitioners to look at service user and carer involvement in the supervision of health and social care workers. This is reported in the seminar report.

From evidence to recommendations

SCIE has a structured process which assesses the quality of the evidence found in order to make recommendations. A narrative summary of the evidence is available as are the evidence tables.


SCIE wishes to thank all members of the Advisory Group including: Gaby Willis, Jennifer Taylor, Kerry Fisher, Margot Main, Diane Fossey, Malcolm Rose, Barbara Campbell, Fiona Maidstone, Everton Bolton, Rachel Ward, Valeria Buzan, Vic Forrest, Michael Turner and Lisa Bostock.

The Guide reviewers: Steven Battley, Suzanne Hudson and Jennifer Taylor

Video Production team: Evans Woolfe Media.

And the writers: Alison Faulkner, Nick Johnson, Meiling Kam and Jane Wonnacott.


All SCIE resources are free to download, however to access the following downloads you will need a free MySCIE account:

Available downloads:

  • 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