In 2013, ARC began a project funded by Skills for Care to prepare eight Registered Managers (or similar) to become professional supervisors/peer mentors.

At the end of the project, all eight participants successfully completed the Award in Peer Mentoring and have gone on to provide peer supervision in their workplaces.

Gill Shaw, Peer Professional Supervision (PPS) project manager, explains more about what was involved in the project…

Why Peer Professional Supervision?

Our project set out to address some actions for social care providers, specified in The Model of Care set out in the DH Review, ‘Transforming care: A national response to Winterbourne View Hospital’, which states,

 “It is not sufficient to have a well trained workforce. There also needs to be good clinical and managerial leadership.” Providers should “Provide effective and appropriate leadership, management, mentoring and supervision.”

Social care delivery is ever changing and managers are continually expected to meet the challenges presented, whilst often working in isolation. They need to constantly learn and apply new skills, often with little support and formal learning or development and little time to reflect on their own practice.

SCIE (briefing 43) highlighted that:

“The emotionally charged nature of the work can place particular demands on people in the field. It is important to provide opportunities for reflective supervision”.

Post Winterbourne View CQC also recognised:

“This is particularly important for staff that are working with people who use services with complex and challenging needs – supervision provides an environment in which they can explore their own personal and emotional reactions to their work”.

Our framework for reflective practice set out to address this need by enabling managers to receive professional mentorship by a skilled mentor.

How did we approach the task?

The project was based on the model of clinical supervision undertaken by health professionals. The focus was to prepare managers to become professional supervisors.

As managers often work in isolation, or are ‘peerless’ within their service, we hoped to create a network of supervisors who would continue to support each other following the lifetime of the project.

As this was one of the priority outcomes identified by Skills for Care we decided that this would indicate a quality outcome, motivate participants and give them the confidence and skills to disseminate the training to others.

What were we trying to achieve?

Our aim was to support a group of managers, employed by different organisations, to engage in Peer Professional Supervision (PPS). PPS sessions would enable the managers to:

  • Reflect on and develop their practice.
  • Discuss individual cases in depth, in a safe and confidential environment.
  • Support each other in changing their practice and in identifying developmental needs.
  • Review professional standards.
  • Keep updated on developments in their profession.
  • Identify professional development needs.

By providing:

  • Continuing professional development (CPD) for Managers & QCF award in mentoring
  • Blended approach to learning and development

The intended outcomes of this project were:

  • A better quality, person-centred service for individuals, from staff who are better able to manage the personal and emotional impact of their practice.
  • Achievement of QCF mentoring unit by Registered Managers, through a PPS process.

What was done?

  • Training materials and associated document were designed.
  • Appropriate qualification sourced.
  • The programme was advertised and participants were selected on a ‘first come first served’ basis.
  • All participants were registered for the Peer Mentoring Award.
  • Two days of training were delivered, followed by practical and assessment days.
  • Service level agreements were signed by all the stakeholder organisations.
  • The assessment and observations of practice took place with portfolio building sessions and additional training to cover aspects learning outcomes such as identifying learning styles.
  • Participants completed reflections and evaluations of the sessions.
  • All eight candidates completed their portfolios handed them in for summative assessment.
  • All eight portfolios were then sent for internal verification.
  • Seven out of eight have begun carrying out PPS in the workplace prior to the end of the course.

Demonstrating business benefit and service improvement

The project set out to address:

  • Barriers to accessing learning…
    Managers are usually busy, training is often expensive in terms of cost and time; and they have little time to ‘stand back’ and reflect on practice. To address this, the course was delivered over the minimum number of days felt necessary to equip participants with the skills and knowledge needed to become supervisors and to enable them to produce evidence to meet the learning outcomes of the mentoring award. Additional study days were added to allow participants to write their evidence of knowledge, performance and reflective practice.
  • Delivering  improved quality…
    During the practical days sessions were based on real work issues, incorporating diverse issues of quality of service delivery.
    One participant stated on the evaluation:

“I was able to put the theory into practice. It was useful to carry out real sessions with real outcomes and plans to move forward.”

  • Skills development and qualifications…
    These are some comments from participants:

“The mentoring sessions helped me develop into a competent mentor by allowing me time in a safe, non-threatening, well supported arena to explore different mentoring styles and responses”.

“I have reflected and developed personally and these sessions have contributed to my portfolio”.

All eight participants have successfully completed the Award in Peer Mentoring.

Sustainability and Scalability

The course has been updated in light of evaluations with the materials, handouts and resources being available. This innovative approach to delivery of qualifications using a blend of theory and performance both during course days and back in the workplace can be implemented in any region.

Developing and promoting PPS in localities is cost effective in terms of delivery and time, whilst it prepares competent supervisors who are then able to continue supervising. To support this work ARC have offered to provide a form of on going support, by offering CPD events or a ‘debriefing’ (one to one or group) service to supervisors when needed.

Further Information:

For more information about this project or implementing Peer Professional Supervision in your organisation or area, please contact: