8 Apr 2021

NQSW supervision resource 5 - Learning from reviews of practice

NQSW supervision resource 5 - Learning from reviews of practice

Learning from reviews across practice settings

In the aftermath of Victoria Climbié’s death a serious case review was conducted by Lord Laming (2009) who focused on social worker wellbeing and emotional costs of the work as well as supervision practices:

‘There is concern that the tradition of deliberate, reflective social work practice is being put in danger because of an overemphasis on process and targets, resulting in a loss of confidence amongst social workers.’

Laming (2009)

The Care Inspectorate (2019) regularly consider aggregated learning from case reviews. This highlights that sufficient support for workers is needed to be confident and competent. This includes “robust and regular supervision that enables constructive challenge and time to reflect on practice and develop skills.”

The most comprehensive reviews occur when there have been extremely serious harms to vulnerable children or adults. In the case of social work these have often identified a break down in procedures (including appropriate supervision), meaning opportunities for intervention to prevent serious harms were missed.

In the overview for supervisors, we highlight enquiries that had significant findings for supervision in social work settings. Scottish case reviews have also had findings around supervision adequacy.

The National Child Protection Leadership Group now provide strategic oversight and mechanisms for improvement regarding child protection across Scotland and have addressed reoccurring issues. These include organisational support and compliance with good quality supervision and support that addresses the scope of professional discretion and identifies training and development needs of practitioners. 

Information and links

Learning and looking after yourself

We introduce a reflective learning activity below. We encourage you to take care of yourself as you work through learning in relation to serious case reviews. It is essential to acknowledge the intense emotional responses we will have as social workers in the course of our work and learning.

Reflective questions

  • Explore the reports that have been published on learning/case reviews in Scotland.
  • Identify your own examples, where good supervision has supported positive outcomes for a client and where opportunities for improvement were not fully explored.
  • Consider which supervision behaviours impacted these differing outcomes.

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