Safeguarding Supervision – safeguarding the wellbeing of staff

This is a poignant reminder to look after staff who are managing and investigating the most vulnerable in society.  Safeguarding supervision is often not treated as a separate form of supervision but should be. It is crucial to safeguard the wellbeing of staff and it’s something I have developed in my business and work for

I recently read this article ‘Investigating child abuse left me with PTSD‘ and I do hope that PC Baird is happier and healthier in his new role.

Many professionals can feel overwhelmed by their role in keeping children and adults at risk of harm safe, this maybe an overused phrase, but safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility. I know from personal experience of being an investigator of the most horrendous crimes perpetrated against children and adults, how emotionally draining and challenging it can be and as such staff need support in the form of safeguarding supervision.

Staff – including myself in my previous role – are dedicated to safeguarding children and adults from harm and, as such don’t always recognise they are struggling to cope, even if they do they don’t speak up for fear of feeling weak or having failed in some way and that is certainly how I felt at time, I think if there was a more clearer pathway for safeguarding supervision it would certainly have helped me, unfortunately my health also deteriorated and as a consequence also was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and received earlier retirement from the police having served 23 years and nine months, I certainly didn’t want to leave the police as i had always wanted to join the police force from a very young age and even now I feel a sense of guilt that I struggled to cope.

I am glad now being healthier and happier and feel confident in my role to help other professionals in their safeguarding roles and feel this first hand experience has helped me develop what makes a good safeguarding supervisor.

Often people ask what is safeguarding Supervision and can be confused with management supervision and should be separate to clinical supervision. This is complimentary to, but separate from, managerial supervision, which is about monitoring and appraising staff the performance of staff. Safeguarding supervision provides a safe and confidential space with the supervisor and supervisee to discuss difficulties encountered and reflect on challenging cases.

Staff should feel able to speak honestly about any concerns or difficulties experienced or they are experiencing. Good safeguarding supervision helps to improve safeguarding practice and learning from experience.

What does safeguarding supervision look like:

  • Planned Safeguarding Supervision
  • Responsive Safeguarding Supervision
  • Group Safeguarding Supervision
  • Unplanned Face to Face contact in the Working Environment

Effective safeguarding supervision helps: 

  1. Promote and develop competence and skill in safeguarding practice
  2. Main focus on the Child/Adult
  3. Provide opportunity to explore professional difference and challenging fixed views
  4. Review evidence-based actions and decisions
  5. Address the emotional impact of work

What? So what? Now What? – the Reflective Model

Safeguarding supervision is not an ‘add on’ to have only if time allows; it must be integral to all organisations who have a role and responsibility to safeguard children and adults at risk of harm however there is evidence that this is often lacking in both quality and frequency. Safeguarding Supervision courses need to be practically based with realistic practical examples to help supervisors know what challenges they may encounter and help them develop and maintain confidence in this challenging role. It is also important to recognise supervisors also need support and needs to be factored into this process.