HCPC research on effective clinical and peer supervision in the workplace
Supervision helps develop skills and knowledge throughout a registrant's career and supports continuing fitness to practise. For this reason, we commissioned Newcastle University to undertake a literature review to establish what makes clinical and peer supervision effective.
The research also looks into any potential barriers to help identify factors to develop in your workplace.
We understand that many professional bodies produce additional guidance on supervision. This research complements that advice, and is aimed to be useful for employers and managers to advance their clinical supervision with our registrants.
We are hoping to develop guidance on supervision for our registrants in the future, based on its findings.
Summary of research
“This relationship is evaluative, extends over time and has the simultaneous purposes of enhancing the professional functioning of the more junior person and monitoring the quality of the professional services.”
“Supervision and consultation in individual or group format, for the purposes of professional development and support in practice…includes a critically reflective focus on the practitioner’s own practice."
- Effective clinical and peer supervision has a range of benefits for the individual receiving supervision, the team and patient care, such as job satisfaction, reduced stress and better care. There were also negative effects associated with no or poor supervision.
- Sometimes effective supervision is impacted by barriers, such as a lack of time or resources dedicated to supervision or a lack of understanding of the purpose of supervision (i.e. to support the person being supervised, rather than being a disciplinary tool).
- There are several key characteristics which could be considered to help make supervision as effective as possible, given in more detail below.
This review has identified that effective clinical and peer supervision is based on the following ten characteristics:
1. When supervision is based on mutual trust and respect.
2. When supervisees are offered a choice of supervisor with regard to personal match, cultural needs and expertise.
3. When both supervisors and supervisees have a shared understanding of the purpose of the supervisory sessions, which are based on an agreed contract.
4. When supervision focuses on providing staff support the sharing/enhancing of knowledge and skills to support professional development and improving service delivery.
5. When supervision is regular and based on the needs of the individual (ideally weekly, minimum fortnightly). Ad-hoc supervision should be provided in cases of need.
6. When supervisory models are based on the needs of the individual. This may include one to one, group (peer supervision), internal or external, distance (including the use of technology) or a mix.
7. When the employer creates protected time, supervisor training and private space to facilitate the supervisory session.
8. When training and feedback is provided for supervisors.
9. When supervision is delivered using a flexible timetable, to ensure all staff have access to the sessions, regardless of working patterns.
10. When it is delivered by several supervisors, or by those who are trained to manage the overlapping responsibility as both line manager and supervisor.