Good quality supervision.
What does it look like?

What is Supervision?

What is Supervision?

If you look at the textbooks you’ll discover that many will refer to supervision as an opportunity for staff to gain the support of their manager, reflect on their practice, consider ways to improve and develop, and that this should lead to better outcomes for those we work with. Of course, all of this is ‘true’, but only to a certain extent. What is missing is the question about quality and distinguishing between good and poor-quality supervision.


At Cornerstone Care Solutions we are regularly working in environments where staff are eager for good quality supervision. With over 250 years of combined experience in health & social care our consultants have been at the receiving end of both good and poor-quality supervision. We consider that it provides us with a unique insight into what good quality supervision should actually look like, and what it should mean for both staff and managers. So, we have scratched our heads and thought about our experiences and have come up with some points for you to think about.


Before the meeting.

Good Quality Supervision …..

…  is usually part of a wider organisational culture. One that is open, enquiring, encouraging, and always looking to improve. Good quality supervision doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

… is about good preparation. Make sure your staff have their paperwork a good week before you’re due to meet. That way they are more likely to respond more fully to the questions you ask of them, and bring the other paperwork that you might want to see at the meeting.

… is about good preparation. No, we’re not repeating what we said above. We’re reminding you that as the manager you also need to prepare and respond to the questions asked of you. As much as you don’t want your staff to come in without spending time thinking about the questions you’ve posed for them, they don’t want you to be unprepared either. 

… is about context, space and place. Ideally find a neutral place for the meeting, but if you hold it in your office, come out from behind the desk, turn the phone off or put it on silence and out of reach, stick a Do Not Disturb sign on your door and remind staff on duty that Do Not Disturb doesn’t mean that one quick question is OK. 

… is usually part of a wider framework for staff development. It might include an annual appraisal, as well as 5 minute/ spot/ instant or practice-based supervisions that take place in the work environment, where praise, guidance and suggestion can be given.


During the meeting ….

Good Quality Supervision …..

… is an opportunity to review and reflect on the notes of the previous supervision, clarifying the outcomes of what was achieved following that earlier meeting.

… involves reviewing the individual’s workload.

… Involves reviewing the ups and the downs in the work, with suggestions and idea sharing for tackling the downs.

… involves identifying opportunities for learning and training, and thinking about doing things differently.

… provides an opportunity to reflect on organisational policy and sector standards.

… demands self-reflection from the member of staff and the manager, about their roles in making the supervision successful and in meeting on going expectations.


At the end of the meeting

Good Quality Supervision …..

…  becomes a contract between the individual and the manager, and sets out tasks for both to complete with a timescale for completion.

… is recorded and signed by both parties who agree that the notes are a true reflection of the meeting.


Some things to remember.

As well as being beneficial for staff, managers and those we work with, providing good quality supervision meets regulatory standards, and supervision notes may form part of an inspection from the regulator. 

With this in mind a manager may, after the formal supervision session has finished, take time to review the individual’s staff file, checking things are up to date (DBS, car insurances, MOT licence details and endorsements). In conducting this audit, the manager is further demonstrating good governance and satisfying elements associated with  a well-led service.


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