This chapter was amended throughout in May 2016.

1. Policy Statement

Hull City Council is committed to person centred, high quality supervision.

Supervision is an integral part of Adult Social Care commitment to training and development for all staff. The supervision policy complements the Personal Performance and Development Policy which aims to ensure that employees know what is expected of them and that they are given the learning and development needed to achieve their goals. Supervisors conduct annual Personal Performance and Development meetings with all their supervisees.

We are committed to a values led approach which promotes staff development and the competencies required to work with vulnerable people.

2. Introduction: Purpose and Values of Supervision

This policy is in line with the Council’s corporate policy and has been designed for adult social care to model the tools and approaches we aim to use in all our practice – namely person centred approaches.

People who work for Hull City Council are its most important resource. By using person centred approaches in supervision we should model how we aim to work with people we support.

The core values that underpin the Council’s conduct and work should be demonstrated and encouraged through supervision. These are:

  • Communicating openly and honestly;
  • Putting people and communities at the heart of everything we do;
  • Ensuring people are treated equally and that difference is valued;
  • Valuing and investing in people as our key resource;
  • Encouraging accountability;
  • Being responsive to changing aspirations, priorities and opportunities;
  • Striving for excellence;
  • Concentrating on outcomes, not process;
  • Contributing to and taking an interest in new initiatives.

Core competencies and behaviours are detailed on the intranet and are part of the values based recruitment process. These competencies provide a framework which can help identify acceptable behaviour and conduct.

3. Aims of Supervision

Positive supervision should achieve the following aims:

  • To develop a supportive, productive work environment that celebrates success;
  • To support staff to manage the demands of work and make sure staff have an appropriate workload;
  • To promote staff learning and development;
  • To promote clear communication;
  • To make sure staff understand their role, responsibilities and accountabilities; Including how they can promote excellence in Adult Social Care;
  • To make sure that our work is person centred and promotes the best interests of people we support;
  • To make sure staff are supported to understand and meet the objectives and standards set by the City Council;
  • To develop and promote positive practice based on evidence research and learning;
  • To identify and address issues in a manner which is positive, safe and supportive.

4. Supervision Framework

4.1 The supervision session

Every staff member should have a named supervisor. The supervisor can be the person’s manager or a more senior member of staff within the team. Once agreed the supervisor should remain consistent as far as possible.

Supervision should be regular, structured, planned and recorded. Supervision is in addition to day to day consultation and advice.

Any newly appointed staff should have regular time for quality supervision. Initially this may be weekly and move to monthly.

ASYE (Assessed and Supported Year in Employment) will be a core part of newly qualified social workers first year of supervision.

The recommended frequency for supervision is monthly and meetings will usually last for an hour. This can be negotiated.

4.2 Supervisory skills

Supervisors will be required to have completed recognised supervision training or make plans to complete this at the earliest possible opportunity. Supervisors need to be skilled in enabling reflective practice, promoting person centred working, identifying learning needs and opportunities, providing balanced feedback and supporting growth and development.

It is the team manager’s responsibility to make sure supervisors have the skills they need, have access to supervision skills training and that they are practicing within the supervision policy.

Supervisors should be able to provide clear guidance about what is expected of the individual staff member in their job role and how well s/he is meeting these expectations. If the staff member is not meeting them, then support should be offered to help them. For example, advice, coaching, mentoring, training or other developmental opportunities in addition to supervision.

It is also important for the supervisor to identify with the supervisee any issues which may be affecting their wellbeing in relation to undertaking their role. This may include identifying signs of stress and following the stress management policy including risk assessment.

4.3 Agreeing supervision

A schedule of meetings should be agreed to enable both parties to plan for supervision. Meetings should take place in a private setting without interruptions. Both parties should contribute to the agenda.

4.4 Open discussion

Supervision is an opportunity to discuss openly important work issues.

This includes consideration of caseload and workload. Discussion may include examination of case volume and complexity. Discussion and mentorship which explores progress towards the outcomes identified for the person supported may also be a key and regular item. Some issues may be of concern beyond supervision. For example, safeguarding matters; bullying or harassment. In these instances the appropriate policies will be followed and the reason for sharing any information beyond supervision clearly explained by the supervisor.

Supervision records whether hard copy or electronic documents will be stored in accordance with data protection to protect personal information.

4.5 Recording

A written record will be kept of each supervision session, with both parties having a copy. It will outline items discussed, actions agreed and feedback on those actions. If there are disagreements about either the content of the session or the way it has been recorded, these should be noted.

Signing hard copies of supervision notes or keeping emails to show that e mailed supervision content was agreed is good practice and signed copies should be retained by both supervisor and supervisee. See Appendix 1: Person centred supervision record as an exemplar template.

5. Giving Feedback

Feedback should be honest and include praise and recognition of positive work. It is therefore helpful to follow a prescribed model of feedback such as D.E.S.C. (Describe, express, specify, consequences).

6. Structure of the Supervision Meeting

A purposeful supervision meeting has a clear structure which is followed each time so that both parties become familiar with this and use time effectively. The following structure is based on ‘Person Centred Supervision’ (Helen Sanderson associates) and fits well with Hull City Council’s commitment to person centred ways of working.

Supporting tools may be used either prior to or within the session these are identified on the process chart. This is not a requirement, but copies of the tools with accompanying guidance are to be found in the forms section.

  1. Preparation: It is helpful to be familiar with staff members one page profiles which identify how best to support them. Also previous notes and actions agreed.
  2. Pleased and proud / appreciation: Take time to celebrate positive work or behaviour. It is important to recognise achievements, work completed, additional effort, commitment and successes since the previous meeting. This can be part of reviewing previous notes.
  3. Agenda setting: Agenda items can include discussion about role, responsibilities, person centred and reflective practice, finance, budgets, team issues, quality , policies and procedures, health and safety , equality and diversity,  professional boundaries, concerns , complaints. If both parties prefer agendas can be set in advance of the meeting and confirmed at the start. Both staff should bring items for the agenda and agree how these will be addressed, in which order of priority and roughly how much time each item will need. Shared agenda setting demonstrates respect and person centred negotiation. If the supervisee carries a caseload or is a front line worker, there may be certain standing agenda items. This will include caseload especially where there are concerns or where there has been a lot of activity. Safeguarding of both adults and children should be a standing agenda item, to check whether the worker has any current concerns and to ensure their continued awareness of responsibilities.
  4. Role: This offers an opportunity to clarify any uncertainties about the person’s role and recognise changes to this. Supervision should provide positive feedback on areas of excellence and explore areas which the staff member is finding difficult. The Doughnut tool may be useful in clarifying the person’s role and the boundaries of that role. This item may not need to be discussed at every meeting, but may be particularly useful when a person is new to the role or is struggling with the role.
  5. Items for discussion: Other items will need to be discussed and may require actions to be agreed. These will include caseload issues or work streams which either party is concerned about or where the supervisee is unsure what to do next. The Working/Not Working Tool may be useful here. Options can be explored and a way forward agreed. Supervision should not be used to resolve personal problems. However if personal problems impact on work they may need consideration and possibly support to help the person manage or resolve their own issues. This might include facilitating access to counselling, amending workload or working patterns but should always be balanced against the needs of the service. Information only items: both parties may have items which do not need to be discussed, but need to be shared. These may include the supervisee briefing the supervisor on an incident which happened and was resolved, but which they need to be aware of, or the supervisor cascading information originating in the corporate centre or with senior managers. They may also include providing an update of work on cases or projects, work carried out since the previous meeting or updates of actions and tasks agreed at last session.
  6. Feedback on performance: The supervisor should give feedback on the overall performance of supervisee including their contribution to key performance targets. Positive feedback should be given for good performance and plans agreed to improve any under-performance. Feedback may also come from people using the service, families and any other stakeholders. You may wish to consider using Working/Not Working; 4 + 1 or Comfort, stretch, panic tools. It is expected that for all frontline staff observation of practice will take place at least annually. The supervisor will pre arrange a time and place to do this. People being supported will be advised about the observation and consent will be sought if any personal care is being delivered during the observation. Observation can take place in relation to tasks, practice, interpersonal and communication skills. Observation is a recognised way of identifying and assuring positive practice.
  7. Learning Development and Support: Identified learning may include what the staff member has learned about themselves, their values and attitudes, their role, their colleagues / organisation, or about the people they work with. Previous learning will help staff to develop reflective practice to find solutions to things they are struggling with and to develop problem solving skills. Reflection on learning also helps to identify next steps for personal and professional development. This information will inform their personal and professional development plan. Support is primarily about what support the staff member needs to perform well. This may be support from the supervisor, from colleagues or from the organisation. It is vitally important that staff are well supported and using person centred tools including ‘How best to support me’ and ‘Team plans’ can help with this.
  8. Closing and actions: Summarise actions agreed and who will do what. Make sure the actions are SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timetabled. Try always to close with something positive, either about the person, their performance and practice or about the session. Thank the person for their time and their input.

7. Training

Supervision skill straining is part of the Learning Programme for Adult Social Care and should be attended by supervisors.

8. Evaluation and review

This policy will be reviewed at least every three years and audits of supervision quality will be undertaken as directed by the senior team.

Appendix 1: Person Centred Supervision Process Flowchart

Click here to view the Person Centred Supervision Process Flowchart.

Appendix 2: Person Centred Supervision Record Template

Click here to access the Person Centred Supervision Record Template.

Appendix 3: Personal Development Action Plan

Click here to access the Personal Development Action Plan.

Appendix 4: Action Plan from Person Centred Supervision

Click here to access Action Plan from Person Centred Supervision.