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Principles and scope of professional supervision

This page is designed to answer the following questions:

NOTE: Although this page has been marked as complete, it has not yet been peer-reviewed or quality-assured, therefore it should be considered a ‘first draft’ and any information should be fact-checked independently.

For this assessment criterion, you will be required to explain the key principles and scope of supervision.

Supervision is a formal process whereby a manager regularly schedules time to meet up with their team members individually to support them in their role. When supervision is done well, it can result in team members performing better and providing better care as well as maintaining high staff morale and motivation.

Why supervision is necessary for adult care

Skills for care summarises the reasons for supervision in their free publication Effective Supervision in Adult Care.

Your workforce is your most valuable resource – and effective supervision plays a key role in
supporting them to deliver high-quality care and support.

Effective supervision supports good working relationships, helps you to address any issues
and celebrate achievements, gives you the opportunity to discuss learning and development
– and, if you’re a regulated provider, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) expects you to offer
staff regular supervision to ensure that they’re competent and confident to do their role.

It goes on to explain that supervision has the following benefits:

  • Maintain quality of care and support
  • Ensure that staff feel supported
  • Support ongoing learning and development
  • Celebrate achievements
  • Support problem solving
  • Meet regulatory standards

Management accountability and monitoring of the quality of care provision

It is the manager’s regulatory responsibility to ensure that all staff are provided with supervision. As stated in Regulation 18 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014, ‘Persons employed by the service provider in the provision of a regulated activity must…receive such appropriate support, training, professional development, supervision and appraisal as is necessary to enable them to carry out the duties they are employed to perform‘.

Supervision also falls under the manager’s responsibilities relating to quality assurance and ensuring that high quality, safe and effective care is provided and continuously improved. For example, Regulation 17, states that ‘…systems or processes must enable the registered person to…assess, monitor and improve the quality and safety of the services provided in the carrying on of the regulated activity (including the quality of the experience of service users in receiving those services)‘. Monitoring care provision and supporting staff to learn and develop through supervision can lead to better outcomes.

Therefore, the manager should ensure that sufficient time is set aside for the supervision of staff – it should be considered a priority and not something that is only done if there is enough time available.

The role of the manager within supervision

It is important to understand that supervision is not about the exercise of power by the manager over their staff, but should be a collaborative process that is focused on learning and development.

Monitoring individual team member’s performance should be discussed openly and honestly, to facilitate learning and development. Agreeing on objectives and key performance indicators with a team member, regularly reviewing progress and supporting them to overcome any challenges or barriers is part of the manager’s role. Objectives should align with the organisation’s objectives and vision to provide improved care service outcomes.

The importance of confidentiality, boundaries and accountability

Supervisees should feel safe during the supervision process and be encouraged to be open and honest about their performance.

Boundaries should be established at the outset, which can include how long the meeting will last and what will be discussed as well as the accountabilities of the supervisor and the supervisee. You may agree to turn off phones to reduce distractions during supervision.

The formality of the working relationship will also need to be set out along with the importance of confidentiality on both sides to reassure the supervisee that the environment is safe and that supervision is taken seriously. The Social Care Institute of Excellence (SCIE) advises:

Establish the boundaries of the supervisory relationship, including confidentiality and communication pathways with others who may have some responsibilities for the supervisee’s work.

Effective Supervision in a Variety of Settings, SCIE (2013)

A framework for conducting supervision should be set out in your organisation’s policies and procedures.

Roles and responsibilities of the supervisor and the supervisee

The supervisor should keep a record of everything that is discussed during supervision and ensure that the supervisee has access to and agrees to the write-up.

The supervisor should be able to provide support to the supervisor and be a good role model. They must be able to provide constructive feedback with the aim of aiding learning and development and improving the supervisee’s practice. The supervisee must understand that any criticism is given with the aim of helping them to develop and so should not be taken personally. The manager should deliver constructive feedback in a way that is sensitive and clear. The manager can demonstrate how feedback should be taken positively by asking for feedback from their team members and learning from it.

Both parties should agree on an agenda beforehand and try not to deviate from it too much so that time is spent productively and the meeting does not over-run.

When agreeing on objectives for a supervisee, the responsibilities of both supervisor and supervisee should be clearly stated. For example, if it is agreed that a team member is to go on epilepsy training, the supervisor’s responsibility may be to arrange the training and the supervisee’s responsibility to attend and learn.

Protection of others

Previously, we discussed the need to agree to confidentiality during the supervision process. This helps to protect all parties including individuals, carers, families and the supervisor and supervisee. However, there may be times when this confidentiality may need to be breached for the protection of others. For example, if a supervisee reports a concern that other team members may be working in an unsafe way, this information may need to be disclosed to others o that it can be addressed.

Both supervisor and supervisee should be clear that the safety of themselves and others will often overrule confidentiality.

To enable reflective practice

Professional supervision is also an opportunity for the supervisor to encourage self-reflection by the supervisee to evaluate their own practice and identify ways to improve. This may be facilitated by asking open questions such as ‘how did you feel after this situation?‘ and ‘what did you learn from this training opportunity?‘.

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