NUMBER 1048 • 18 SEPTEMBER • regular supervision
The available evidence (Davies 1988; NALGO 1989) suggests that the general pattern of supervision in different agencies and settings is patchy and uneven. Some staff do not get any at all, for others it is minimal and routinised, and for many it is irregular and given low priority. For those more fortunate it is a regular highly valued resource that is greatly appreciated. In our view, good supervision is an entitlement for all staff and should be enshrined in every agency as a policy priority, with a well-resourced and comprehensive training programme for all supervisors (see Chapter 10).
When first-line managers are under pressure, as they often are (it is one of the most stressful jobs in social work because of the pivotal position between practitioners and senior management), arranged supervision sessions need only be abandoned - and rearranged - when serious crises or indispositions occur. Protecting the importance of supervision in this way is seen to be possible because in some teams, including those where the workloads and stress levels are very great, the supervisor nevertheless manages to organise things so that supervision is protected as far as possible. This committed approach communicates itself to the team, who appreciate that the entitlement to supervision is being applied and taken very seriously by their manager.
This in turn will probably have positive spin-off because the supervisees are likely to respond by taking supervision very seriously themselves, preparing for it properly, and thus gaining the greatest advantage. Conversely, supervisors who are casual about supervision sessions, frequently changing the arrangements for relatively unimportant reasons, and making it clear that they give supervision very low priority, communicate a very different message to their staff. They in turn may well become disillusioned and start treating supervision as unimportant and of little value. Some may of necessity seek assistance from other sources, but this should complement not replace supervision.
ALLAN BROWN & IAIN BOURNE
Brown,A., Bourne, I. (1996): The Social Work Supervisor: SUPERVISION IN CONTEXT, SERIES EDITORS: PETER HAWKINS AND ROBIN SHOHET. Buckingham and Bristol, Open University Press, pp. 15 –16