Updated: 07 November 2017
It is important that our staff feel supported in the work that they do. Our work is complex and we need to ensure that there are opportunities to reflect on practice, learn new or different ways of doing things, and maximise the sharing of collegial skills and experience so that we see our individual and collective practice strengthen over time.
Professional supervision is one of the key enablers that can make positive shifts in practice leading to improved outcomes for tamariki. It provides a formal and on-going process that is vital to quality child-centred practice, professional development, relationship enhancement and practitioner wellbeing.
Professional supervision supports practitioners to critically reflect and challenge their practice and enhance their professional judgment within a safe and supportive supervisory relationship.
Effective supervision can support practitioners with the impact of trauma and stress, increase job satisfaction and create a culture of continuous learning and development to support safe practice.
Cultural supervision supports accountability, best practice, and professional and cultural development. It helps maintain a focus on identity, belonging and connection for tamariki. It ensures the strengths and aspirations of people from diverse and different cultures are respected and explored to produce practice that is culturally responsive.
Professional supervision contributes significantly to improving best practice and outcomes for Māori. The Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 has three overarching principles that relate directly to working effectively with tamariki Māori. These are:
Within Te Tiriti o Waitangi there is an obligation to recognise the significance of Māori as Tangata Whenua of Aotearoa. The principles of partnership, participation and protection are relevant within supervision and Māori centred supervision to strengthen staff responsiveness in supporting the oranga journey of tamariki Māori which is paramount. It also addresses practitioner capability in relation to the practice framework core element: 'Working effectively with Māori'.
This policy sets out how professional supervision will be delivered to Oranga Tamariki practitioners.
It is designed to guide all Oranga Tamariki practitioners, who work directly with tamariki, their supervisors, team leaders or managers.
This policy will guide staff working in roles where they are required to maintain competence and/or an Annual Practicing Certificate under their professional association.
This is to ensure quality supervision is effectively embedded in ways that enhance outcomes for tamariki, their whānau and carers.
The professional supervision policy and standards apply to practitioners employed by Oranga Tamariki on a permanent, temporary and casual basis. This includes, but is not limited to:
Professional supervision provides a formal and ongoing process that promotes professional competence, accountable and safe practice, continuing professional development, critical reflection, and practitioner wellbeing.
It enables, guides and facilitates the practitioner to meet organisational, professional and personal objectives within the four functions of professional supervision.
The supervision process performs four critical functions:
Management — Focuses on the interests of tamariki, whānau and caregivers and ensures that policies, procedures, practice standards are understood and followed.
Development — Focuses on self-evaluation, building professional capability, linking practice to practitioner’s knowledge base, build on critical thinking and professional judgement.
Support — Focuses on the emotional impact of the work and any resulting stress or support needs and wellbeing of the practitioner in recognition of the impact of vicarious trauma.
Facilitation/Mediation — Focuses on engaging the practitioner with the organisation, role clarity and effective multi-agency and relationships across sectors, managing the tensions of the competing demands.
|Supervisors* will:||Supervisees will:||Managers will:||Leadership will:|
|• recognise that their supervision provides critical support to the wellbeing and professional development of staff
• recognise that they are instrumental in both helping supervisees to identify skills and knowledge gaps in their practice, and developing a plan to address these
• prioritise supervision and provide it in accordance with the policy
• have the skills, training, expertise and cultural competence
• participate in their own professional supervision and on-going professional development.
* Roles that provide professional supervision
|• recognise the support that supervision provides, as part of their wellbeing and professional development
• prioritise and actively participate in regular supervision
• be an active participant by engaging in the process of critical reflection and seeking professional development.
|• recognise that supervision is a critical support for the wellbeing and professional development of staff
• ensure that professional supervision is a priority
• ensure that supervisors have the required skills, knowledge and expertise
• engage in their own supervision
• demonstrate and provide leadership for cultural competence
• ensure quality improvements processes are in place.
|• recognise that supervision is a critical support for the wellbeing and professional development of staff
• ensure that professional supervision is available
• ensure that a programme of continuous professional development is available for all supervisors
• ensure that supervisors have the required skills, knowledge and expertise and cultural competence
• recognise the importance and provide investment for a culture of learning and development.
There are many types of supervision depending on the learning and development needs of the supervisee and expertise of supervisors.
Each of the following types of supervision described below may be practiced in varying contexts in Oranga Tamariki, according to the needs of individuals and teams.
In the main, professional supervision will be provided as:
Other types of supervision may be accessed in negotiation with your manager:
Professional registration requires that social workers participate in regular supervision as per the Social Work Registration Board’s policy (2015): “… a practitioner will access regular and appropriate supervision at least monthly and in a manner that is consistent with reasonable expectations of the levels of skill and practice ability of the individual.”
In consultation with their supervisor, a practitioner may negotiate the use of different types of supervision such as cultural or peer supervision provided that it is of quality and supported by a supervision agreement.
Additional supervision sessions may be negotiated as and when required.
The following table is the recommended frequency for one to one individual professional supervision for full time practitioners within Oranga Tamariki.
Note: The frequency for part time employees is to be considered on a pro rata basis and residential youth workers may attend 3 weekly group supervision sessions.
|Position||Frequency of supervision|
|All youth/social workers/practitioners/ co-ordinators (youth justice and care and protection) with less than or equal to 12 months Oranga Tamariki experience||1 hour per week|
|All youth/social workers/practitioners/ co-ordinators (youth justice and care and protection) with more than 12 months Oranga Tamariki experience||1 hour per fortnight|
|Contact centre staff, supervisors, practice/team/case leaders/managers||1 hour per month|
|Regional practice advisors, learning and capability development advisors, national office professional practice advisors||1 hour per month|
Cultural supervision is separate from professional supervision, but is intrinsically part of the supervision and support provided to staff.
Cultural supervision is about both cultural accountability and cultural development. It is essential to ensure that the aspirations of all cultures are respected and explored within the supervisory relationship and that services are delivered through culturally responsive, effective and acceptable practices.
There are broad and varied understandings about cultural supervision; however there is general agreement that this process is founded on a major premise that the culture of the supervisor and supervisee invokes different needs, understandings and responsiveness.
Cultural supervision provides a direct lens over Te Mana O Te Tamaiti, whakapapa and whanaungatanga. In order to deliver better outcomes for tamariki, all supervisors should be able to provide culturally competent supervision regardless of their ethnicity. Supervisors should know when to seek cultural advice and/or supervision and have identified people they can access.
Under Te Tiriti o Waitangi, there is an obligation that identifies a need for Māori centred supervision and directly links to the Oranga Tamariki practice framework core “working effectively with Māori”.
Several variations of Māori centred supervision may exist to meet the various needs of practitioners:
In addition, other cultural realities need to be taken into account when addressing supervision needs to strengthen workforce capability and responsiveness to best practice for all tamariki and their families.
In our work with Pacific children and families, practice principles of humility, dignity, responsibility, relationship, spirituality, guardianship and child’s best interest are integral to the supervisory engagement.
In addition to professional supervision, there are other forms of professional learning, development and support activities to meet practitioners’ needs across their developmental continuum. This may be provided by one’s line manager, supervisor or another person depending on the developmental activity required.
Other types of learning support may include:
Oranga Tamariki staff who provide professional supervision will have the required skills, knowledge and expertise to deliver quality culturally competent supervision.
Learning pathways for new and existing supervisors and other on-going learning and development opportunities will be accessed by supervisors to maintain and develop their competence.
All staff members who provide professional supervision in any form, must themselves participate in regular on-going supervision.
The Social Work Registration Board (2015) states that those who provide supervision to registered social workers:
These are the key characteristics of a good supervisor:
The most important part of effective professional supervision is the relationship between the supervisor and the supervisee. In fact, “the ability to establish and maintain the supervisory relationship is a core requirement of a supervisor.” (Davys and Beddoe, 2010).
Developing the supervision agreement is critical for an effective supervisory relationship as it determines how the participants will work together to achieve mutually set goals. It is more than a task, rather a process of collaborative negotiation between the supervisor and supervisee. The supervisory relationship is underpinned by the development of a trusting, respectful and open relationship and within which “risks may be taken, innovations attempted, challenges raised and development enhanced.“ (Morrison, 2005).
The participants will need to negotiate the terms of the agreement in relation to practicalities, organisational and professional requirements, setting clear expectations, managing conflict, resolving concerns, goal setting.
Oranga Tamariki has a professional supervision agreement template available on the practice centre.
An agreement should include the following:
Other subjects to include when establishing a supervision agreement are covered in more detail in the following sections: confidentiality, documentation, supervision records and resolution of concerns.
Within the supervisory relationship, discussions are considered confidential. This excludes concerns or issues around safe practice.
The supervision agreement should cover the process for dealing with unsafe practice issues. The process should be discussed and agreed to early in the supervisory relationship.
The need to share information from supervision sessions should firstly be discussed with the supervisee. This may not always be possible if immediate safety concerns are present.
Formal casework decisions must be recorded on the case management system, and who will do this is negotiated in the supervision agreement.
A supervision record must be maintained for each session that captures discussions and agreed actions. Is also provides evidence of attendance. A template can be found on the practice centre.
At times, a supervisee and their supervisor may disagree. It is important to discuss the concern together and work to resolve any ongoing issues in a timely and direct way.
If a compromise cannot be reached, they are encouraged to discuss the matter with an agreed third party in order to reach a mutually acceptable outcome. For example, a practice leader may be used when issues are practice related.
This is an area that should be covered at the time of negotiating the supervision agreement. It is essential that a pathway for the resolution of concerns is clearly articulated at the beginning of the supervisory relationship.
Ideally, the initial supervision agreement should be reviewed at three months then yearly thereafter.
Oranga Tamariki supports the use of the integrative model of supervision (IMS):
The use of reflective supervision is a key part of the supervisor’s role in developing practitioners. It provides a discrete and safe opportunity that assists staff to:
Reflective supervision provides an opportunity for the supervisee to examine their thoughts, feelings, actions and reactions that may arise within their work with tamariki and whānau. It aligns closely with the concept of learning from experience. The supervisor assists the supervisee to think about what they did, and what happened, to consider what was effective in their practice and what could be strengthened, then decide from these insights, what they would do the same or differently next time.
“All practitioners working in the complex and ambiguous world of child protection need to have the capacity to critically think about the ways they make sense of complex situations, cases and problems”. (Leading Practice, 2014)
Reflective supervision shifts away from a task based, compliance, case management approach as it utilises:
“When reflection occurs in supervision, it can be in relation to reflecting on day to day practice, triggered by a challenging (clinical) encounter or in anticipation of having to manage a complex situation. It is imperative that reflective practice is conducted in a supportive environment to allow individuals to freely share information that promotes learning” (The Superguide, 2012).
To make the most of supervision, it is important that the sessions are structured.
O’Donoghue (2014) proposes an interactional map for the supervision session. The relationship between supervisee and supervisor is interactional and collaborative.
This process is also useful for assisting new supervisees and supervisors as a lead in to their supervisory discussions in the beginning phase.
The interactional map can also enable the participants to return the session into focus, as well as a method to review their sessions.
|Session stages||Supervisee phases||Supervisor phases|
Thinking about the forthcoming session
Attending to the setting
|Working||Telling the story or presenting an item||Clarifying and exploring the story or issue|
|Ending||Summary and review
The practicalities of next session
|Reviewing what was covered
Finishing up the session
Finishing the notes
Kieran O’Donoghue: Towards an Interactional Map of the Supervision Session
We will measure the effectiveness of professional supervision from the following outcomes:
Examples of collection methods