The power of relationship-based supervision in supporting social work retention: A case study from long-term ethnographic research in child protection

Lisa Warwick*, Liz Beddoe, Jadwiga Leigh, Tom Disney, Harry Ferguson, Tarsem Cooner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Supervision is a core component of professional support and development in social work. In many settings, and perhaps particularly in children’s services, it is valued as crucial in safe decision making, practice reflection, professional development, and staff support. Research has demonstrated that supervision and staff support also contribute to social worker retention in child welfare services. Drawing on data gathered in a 15-month ethnographic, longitudinal study of child protection work that included observations of supervision, we were able to observe the impact of supportive supervisory relationships on social workers’ decision making about staying in their current workplace. This article presents a single case that demonstrates the potential impact of effective relationship-based supervision on retention and calls for a more humane approach to social work supervision against dominant managerial themes that have increasingly burdened the profession.
Original languageEnglish
JournalQualitative Social Work
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 16 Jun 2022

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