Supervision: Getting into groups | QCS

Supervision: Getting into groups

August 7, 2015

Supervision - Getting into groups

I recently wrote a blog post about the functions of supervision in the context of one-to-one sessions between worker and supervisor. Individual supervision is important and the regulations accompanying the Health and Social Care Act 2008 tells us it is a requirement for care providers.  In this article I want to think about the role of group supervision, which can be particularly useful when we are thinking about a group setting, such as a day centre or a care home.

Managing change

I’ve been involved in group supervision within a couple of contexts when a residential unit for people with mental health problems was moving to a new way of working, and in a mental health social work team during a period of reorganisation. Group supervision proved a helpful way of staff dealing with issues around change. Supervision doesn’t just have to be about one-to-one consultation. Group supervision can be a way of staff sharing issues with each other, particularly in a time of change.

Beware of the pitfalls

So what are some of the potential pitfalls of group supervision?

  • It should not be a quick alternative to individual supervision. You can see the attraction in terms of time and staff resources of supervision for a whole group at the same time. Well that’s not an option – staff still need individual supervision, particularly for that important function of managerial supervision.
  • Group supervision sessions are not the same as team meetings to pass on information and decide business – the agenda and structure will be different.
  • Who is going to facilitate? Group dynamics can be very difficult to manage. Is the manager going to lead it, or is it best for an outsider, or someone else within the team? If staff are anxious or even angry particularly in a period of change, what happens if all of this is focussed on the group leader?
  • How will difficult issues be handled? If unsafe practice is exposed in a group supervision session, what will the group facilitator do with that information? Group supervision should be a part of any supervision contract, so supervisees know what to expect out of supervision. The QCS policy on supervision talks about the importance of contracts, and that applies to group supervision as well.

Sharing the skills

And so what are the advantages of group super?

  • Care homes and day centres work very much as a team with staff working together to meet the needs of service users. A team approach lends itself to group supervision, so the whole team can develop consistent ways of working.
  • Group supervision can be a way of empowering the team, working with each other to manage change, or be more confident in working with complex cases or challenging behaviour. We can use the different styles and skills contained within the staff group.

So do think about using group supervision, as a useful part of your supervision framework.

David Beckingham – QCS Expert Mental Health Contributor


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