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1.1.6 Supervision Policy

This chapter was added in May 2016.


1. Introduction
  1.1 Professional Supervision and Case Supervision
  1.2 Ad hoc Case Discussions within Case Supervision
2. Professional Supervision
  2.1 Frequency of Professional Supervision
  2.2 Recording of Professional Supervision
  2.3 Confidentiality and Retention
3. Case Supervision
  3.1. Frequency of Case Supervision
  3.2. Purpose of Case Supervision
  3.3. Recording of Case Supervision
  3.4. Confidentiality and Retention
4. Setting Activities in the Context of Formal Appraisal (PDR)

1. Introduction

Bedford Borough Children’s Services recognise that staff members are its most important asset in fulfilling the Council’s responsibility to provide a high quality service. 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.

Staff Supervision contains two main elements although ‘Ad Hoc discussions’ (see Section 1.2, Ad Hoc Case Discussions within Case Supervision) may take place between supervisions.

1.1 Professional Supervision and Case Supervision

In most occasions’ professional supervision and 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 ‘Ad Hoc discussions’ and decision making.

1.2 Ad Hoc Case Discussions within Case Supervision

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 within ‘notes’ in Azeus. It is the manager’s responsibility to ensure accurate and timely recording of Ad Hoc Case Discussions or Decisions.

2. Professional Supervision

Professional supervision is the opportunity for supervisors/managers and staff members to:

  • Spend dedicated time ensuring that the member of staff understands the role to which he or she is appointed;
  • Give time and space to ensure that the supervisor can hear of any issues both personal and professional which are affecting the member of staff within the post held, and ensure support is in place. For example this would include agreeing leave arrangements or hearing about health difficulties, or problems in the workplace;
  • Give and receive constructive feedback;
  • Give and receive clear direction around tasks and work planning, and for the employer and organisation to provide support including ensuring that lieu time arrangements are agreed;
  • Jointly review training and development needs and agree how these needs will be met;
  • Provide a forum in which performance concerns are identified and plans formulated to improve performance and monitor such plans;
  • Provide a basis for the collection of evidence for the annual appraisal of staff for both parties, with particular reference to training and development needs;
  • Provides an opportunity to review workers current case load and ensures that this is within the individuals' professional competency and capacity. This should be balanced against the demands of the case load at that point. Case load management is a fluid dynamic process.

Professional supervision is also intended to help in identifying and achieving personal learning, career and development opportunities for the supervisee. Learning and Development will be discussed in supervision taking into account the workforce development strategy.

Newly Qualified Social Workers only

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.

2.1 Frequency of Professional Supervision

At the beginning of a supervisory relationship the supervisor and supervisee should complete a ‘Professional Supervision Agreement’ (see Appendix A - Professional Supervision Agreement).

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 any social worker with case holding responsibilities and their line managers;
  • Four weekly for IROs and CP conference chairs, and their line managers;
  • Eight weekly for full time staff without case holding responsibilities (i.e. ‘involved’ workers);
  • Twelve weekly for non-operational support staff (e.g. Business Support).

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.

The supervision standards include as a minimum:

  • Supervisors to be trained in supervision processes and the application of these procedures;
  • Supervisees to be inducted into the supervision procedures;
  • 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;
  • The ‘Professional Supervision Agreement’ will be completed, agreed, and signed as part of the induction process between both parties;
  • Practitioners are required to prepare for supervision by identifying areas for discussions in advance and bringing any necessary documentation to the meeting;
  • Names or personal details of clients will not be recorded in Professional Supervision notes; however ICS (Azeus or Childview) numbers may be used if appropriate;
  • Disagreements should be recorded together with proposed activities to resolve or escalate as required.

Group supervision may be considered to encourage practitioners to reflect on practice and how attitudes, approaches and skills affect the relationships they have with both service users and colleagues. This may involve working through the values and principles and giving examples of how these principles have been applied in practice. Examples may relate to professionalism, conduct and confidentiality.

2.2 Recording of Professional Supervision

All individual supervision meetings will be recorded in Azeus for individuals with case holding responsibilities and using the ‘Professional Supervision Meeting Record’ (see Appendix B - Personal Supervision Record) for those without case holding responsibilities or where Azeus is not used. One copy will be provided to the supervisee and one copy retained by the supervisor.

Recording that a supervision session has taken place

Supervisors/managers should ensure that a record of the supervision is recorded in Azeus or in the individual’s personal supervision file (where Azeus is not used).

2.3 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).

Increasingly, electronically held supervision records are in use. These should be shared with the member of staff, stored; password protected and when the member of staff moves post or ceases employment, these records should be transferred to new manager or archived electronically. (Business Support will assist).

Electronic records should be e-mailed 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.

The principle of confidentiality within supervision does not exclude the supervisor or supervisee from their responsibilities under Bedford Borough Council Professional Code of Conduct. Should evidence of misconduct, unsafe or illegal practice arise, the supervisee is encouraged to report them to the operational manager, but if this does not occur, the supervisor should do so.

3. Case Supervision

Case supervision is undertaken on those cases where the supervisee has been allocated a referral and/or piece of work to be completed. The supervisee may be the Key Social Worker, Lead Professional or be providing a service as part of the plan and/or Team Around the Child. Case supervision provides the supervisor and through this the organisation with oversight of casework.

This procedure sets out the requirements, including frequency and criteria, for when each child’s record should be discussed in supervision, areas to be discussed and checked by the supervisor and timescales for recording onto the child’s record. Where one or more members of staff are jointly working with a family, joint supervision may be beneficial.

Case Supervision will be recorded in Azeus.

The supervisor will ensure that if the record in Azeus has not been completed during the supervision session, the record is completed within 72 hours or sooner. 

3.1 Frequency of Case Supervision

In all cases it is the responsibility of the supervisee to bring to the attention of the supervisor any significant changes in circumstances where frequency of supervisions may need to be increased or an ‘ad hoc discussion or decision’ may be required. (See also Section 1.2, Ad Hoc Discussion or Decisions).

In all cases it is the responsibility of the supervisor to ensure that a worker’s full case load has the appropriate level of supervision and that every case is supervised and case supervision recorded on ICS at least once within each eight week period.

Case Supervision should take place as a minimum as detailed below, however frequency can be increased at the supervisor’s discretion or the request of the supervisee depending on complexity of the case, level of risk and experience of the worker involved:

3.1.1 All cases should be discussed within supervision within four weeks of allocation or transfer of Keyworker.
3.1.2 Where a child is the subject of a ‘Child Protection’ plan the Keyworker should receive case supervision on a four weekly basis (minimum frequency).
3.1.3 Where a child is the subject to a ‘Child in Need’ plan the Keyworker should receive case supervision on a four weekly basis (minimum frequency).
3.1.4 Where a child is ‘Looked After’ the keyworker should receive case supervision on a minimum of an eight weekly basis (four weekly until permanency plan agreed).
3.1.5 Where a child is the subject of a ‘Team Around the Child’ plan the Lead Professional should receive case load supervision on a four weekly basis (minimum frequency).
3.1.6 Where a member of staff is involved in any of the above cases (but not as Keyworker or Lead Professional) or supporting a family or young person as a ‘single agency involvement’ cases should be discussed within four weeks of allocation and then as a minimum every eight weeks. However the frequency of case supervision may be increased at the workers request or at the manager’s discretion.
3.1.7 In any one year (April 1st - 31st March) the supervisor should arrange to undertake two practice observations for all case holding staff, some examples of which may include a home visit, presentation at conference/meeting, attendance at Court or direct work with families. The observation should be recorded on the Practice Observation Template. Appendix C – Practice Observation Template and for additional guidance, see Appendix D – Practice Observation Guidance. Supervisors/managers should ensure that a record of the date of when the observation took place is recorded within the supervision record.

In cases where more than one member of Local Authority staff is involved with the child, joint supervision can be considered where it is helpful and effective to do so.

Further management oversight will be achieved through case conferences, support panels and case file audits. These arrangements provide increased focus on early help ensuring TAC cases where Children’s Services staff hold lead professional responsibility are regularly supervised 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 or Decisions.

For further guidance please see Appendix E – Supervision Flowchart.

3.2 The Purpose of Case Supervision

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

3.2.1 Enabling the organisation, through the supervisor, to ascertain that a practitioner is reaching the required standard in relation to delivery both in specific and general tasks in delivering a service to the child and family.
3.2.2 Identifying and enabling clear and effective management of risk. (Risks to child, family, staff member, and organisation.
3.2.3 Enabling targets and objectives to be agreed and outcomes to be monitored in relation to specific cases or roles (including allocation records) The process used is ‘Assessment, Planning, Delivery and Review’ (See below).
3.2.4 Establishing a clear understanding of accountability.
3.2.5 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.
3.2.6 Facilitating reflective practice, using the resources available on the Research in Practice website.
3.2.7 Ensuring that recording on the child's record is compliant with information governance and records management policy, procedure and guidance.
3.2.8 Identifying how issues which impede the effectiveness of intervention and delivery of service can be resolved.
3.2.9 Confirming that the welfare of the child is paramount and that their wishes, views and feelings have been ascertained, taken into consideration and recorded.
3.2.10 Ensuring that the parent(s)/carer(s) views have been sought, taken into consideration and recorded.
3.2.11 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.
3.2.12 Ensuring that the provision of services promotes the ethnic, cultural, racial, gender, religious, identity and language needs of the child and family.
3.2.13 Reviewing and monitoring workload management to identify if the supervisee has adequate time and knowledge to meet the needs of the case.

3.3 Recording of Case Supervision

The case supervision record is evidence that there has been supervisory oversight 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. Disagreements should be recorded together with proposed actions to resolve or escalate disagreements.

Case supervision must be recorded on Azeus using the case notes section. The expected standard is that the case supervision is recorded on Azeus at the time of the supervision meeting. If this is impossible the supervisor should record on Azeus within 72 hours (three working days).

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 Azeus file.

3.4 Confidentiality and Retention

All ICS (Azeus) records, including ‘case supervision’ notes and ‘case discussion 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. An ICS record is a history of a child’s journey.

The principle of confidentiality within case supervision does not exclude the supervisor or supervisee from their responsibilities under Bedford Borough Council Professional Code of Conduct. Should evidence of misconduct, unsafe or illegal practice arise, the supervisee is encouraged to report them to a senior manager, but if this does not occur, the supervisor should do so.

4. Setting Activities in the Context of Formal Appraisal (PDR)

Managers and staff in children's teams are accountable for continuously improving the quality of their services and safeguarding high standards of care. Bedford Borough Council’s Performance and Development Review (PDR) system underpins operational management and supervision arrangements and encourages continuous professional development.

All staff will be involved in formal PDR processes, which will be compliant with Bedford Borough Council standards and led by those immediately supervising staff as part of operational management arrangements. The PDR will be informed by the outcomes of supervision activities and focus on:

  • Maintaining high quality service delivery;
  • Staff Development;
  • Staff Support;
  • Ensuring compliance with corporate policies, procedures and statutory responsibilities.

For further guidance on Bedford Borough Council’s, ‘Performance and Development Review’ please follow the link.


Appendix A - Professional Supervision Agreement

Appendix B - Personal Supervision Record

Appendix C – Practice Observation Template

Appendix D – Practice Observation Guidance

Appendix E – Supervision Flowchart