NUMBER 975 • 5 JUNE • supervision
The term supervision has varied definitions. One, which explains supervision as an important and critical aspect in program design, is the description of supervision by Hughes & Pengelly (1997: 3). They see supervision as a microcosm of how an organisation responds to its environment, including its service users. Thus staff supervision is the means of developing and controlling the quality of service. In order to get the best out of staff, their needs and rights should be attended to. This means that supervision is linked to the way in which the organisation manages the complete service program (Hughes & Pengelly, 1997: 6). Kobolt (1999) agreed with this in terms of supervision in residential care, seeing it as “the process of professional reflection on the reflective processes about how a service occupation is carried out.” These definitions and explanations seem to suggest that supervision is the link between practice and management in a program.
Supervision has been described as the process which connects individuals with their purposive functions, and then disperses them - task bound, emotionally levelled and educationally enlightened - back into the organisation and its work (NACCW, 1996). Thus supervision can be described as a process by which workers may regularly review their work - with a more experienced colleague. This person then, within a supportive relationship, monitors the effectiveness of their work in terms of the organisation’s goals, and guides their professional growth in terms of insight, knowledge and skills for their work (NACCW, 1996).
In terms of residential care programs, supervisory relationships are important and as stated by Fant and Ross (1977: 627), supervision is regarded as the “backbone of residential treatment programs and other forms of residential care.” Sadly, supervision is often ignored or disregarded as being a vital aspect in residential care programs in South Africa.
Hughes & Pengelly (1997: 26) identified two types of supervision, namely professional supervision, which has as its aim to “provide the most appropriate form of service to the client and to assist the workers to maintain objectivity”, and secondly managerial supervision which has as its aim “to ensure that work is carried out according to the policies of the agency and that they have reasonable resources for the job.” Kobolt (1999) supported these purposes of supervision, but sees both as aspects of the aim of supervision, which is to “become aware of one’s thinking and behaviour strategies, professional themes and patterns and ways of resolving them in practice.” Hudson (2003) identified three elements of supervision namely accountability, development and support. These appear to be similar to both Kobolt’s and Hughes & Pengelly’s purposes of supervision.
In child and youth care, supervision is seen as formal supervision and on-line supervision. Formal supervision would be where the accountability and holding staff responsible for their work tasks is carried out whilst the on-line supervision would be more supportive and developmental. In South African Child and Youth Care program supervision is more often than not of the formal nature, and hence is often then seen as “snoopervision” rather than having any form of supportive nature.
Scott, K. (2005). Supervision - A hardy perennial. Child and Youth Care, 23(1), p. 22