Wales survey finds social workers getting supervision in Tesco

Nearly a quarter of social workers in Wales surveyed in a snapshot poll do not receive professional supervision, despite the vast majority of employers having a clear supervision policy. Twenty-four per cent of respondents to the online BASW Cymru survey said they do not receive supervision at all, even though 92% said their employer did have a policy in place.

Only half of all respondents said they have a supervision contract with their line manager. More positively, however, of the 76% of social workers who do receive supervision, 49% receive it monthly or more frequently.

The mixed picture was described as “disappointing overall” by BASW Cymru manager Robin Moulster who said: “Regular supervision is an absolute essential for social work practitioners and while a third of social workers are receiving this on at least a monthly basis, two thirds are not and indeed a quarter are going without any level of support at all. This is very worrying as it is placing social workers and service users, not to mention the managers themselves, at significant risk should something go wrong.”

Mr Moulster also reiterated BASW Cymru’s repeated call for the Code of Practice for Employers of Social Care Workers to have the same statutory basis as the code for employees to ensure that social workers are effectively supported in their role. The employer’s code does include a requirement to support staff with ‘training and development’ opportunities but this is not legally enforced in the same way as the employee’s code.

The survey of 73 social workers in Wales indicated that supervision in some local authority areas remained a low priority, with the scheduling of meetings, and even the location, subject to sudden change. Responding to a question about whether the supervision sessions are confidential, one social worker commented: “Confidential! Supervision takes place in the Tesco café, local library, or when my supervisor’s eight-year-old is in the office after school. Supervision is booked in advance [but] I stay grounded, anticipating another call from the supervisor to say that she’s cancelled again, or a 1.5 hour session gets condensed to 20 minutes as the supervisor doesn’t see it as a high priority!!”