Guidance for providing supervision in different settings

Supervision for child protection and adult safeguarding teams

Where social workers have safeguarding and protection work as a core role then lines of accountability should be clearly identified, and elements 1 - 3 of individual supervision should normally be undertaken by the line manager who would be a registered social worker.

Supervision in multi-professional teams

Particular attention should be given to the clarification of arrangements where social workers are located in multi-professional teams or project groups, with a manager from another experience background, the various elements of supervision identified above may be split amongst several people. Models of shared supervisory and managerial responsibilities are well tried and tested with social work students and newly qualified social workers, and can be managed effectively via a written supervision statement clarifying respective roles and responsibilities.

Supervision and peer learning

To see supervision as only an arrangement between an individual and their manager (or a group of supervisors) is to miss rich learning opportunities provided through formal and informal peer networks. This is an important and often underplayed part of the supervisory process. Where social workers are situated within co-located teams this is a normal part of work interaction, e.g. in case discussions and debriefings. Trends towards more home working, dispersed teams, sole social workers in multi-professional teams, and other models of working, mean that this important peer network interaction may have to be explicitly created. This should be promoted by managers, but also by trade unions, professional associations, and increasingly by the College of Social Work. Employers should support these networks which make a significant contribution to effective service delivery and the morale of social workers. The richer this experience is for employees, the less pressure it puts on an organisation's supervisory systems to provide professional challenge and updates on professional practice.

The combination of effective supervision arrangements, together with a suitable working environment, manageable workloads, supportive management systems and access to continuous learning, will help to ensure that social workers are able to provide good and responsive services for children, adults and families. By creating these conditions, employers will help to provide a setting in which social workers choose to work and remain. The Social Work Reform Board believes that all social workers should be able to expect that the Standards for Employers and Supervision Framework will form the basis for everyday social work practice in any setting in which they choose to work.