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Findings on Research on Peer Supervision in Rural and Remote Australia using technology


Findings on Research on Peer Supervision in Rural and Remote Australia using technology Amanda Nickson BSW MSW MAASW (Acc) – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Findings on Research on Peer Supervision in Rural and Remote Australia using technology

Findings on Research on Peer Supervision in
Rural and Remote Australia using technology
  • Amanda Nickson

  • The Australian Association of Social Workers
    (AASW) requires regular supervision of social
    workers to gain and maintain accreditation with
    the association
  • The National Practice Standards of the AASW
    Supervision, requires
  • 1.recent graduates (lt 3yrs full time experience)
    to have the equivalent of one uninterrupted hour
    individual supervision weekly
  • 2. Social Workers with gt 3yrs full time
    experience to have the equivalent of one
    uninterrupted hour individual supervision

  • Difficulty accessing supervision for workers in
    rural and remote areas impact on recruitment
    and retention of staff
  • Personal experience of inadequate peer
    supervision at a senior social worker level
    within a large government department

  • Turnover and burnout of social workers in rural
    and remote Australia
  • Lack of available supervisors in rural and remote
  • Gap in literature
  • Technology can overcome the tyranny of distance

  • The National Practice Standards of the Australian
    Association of Social Work Supervision, AASW,
    (1993) document states that the primary purpose
    of professional supervision is to facilitate
    competent, independent practice. It refers to
    three equally important components in supervision
    being administration, education and support.

Supervision - definitions
  • Kadushin and Harkness (2002), observed that the
    ultimate long term objective of social work
    supervision is to provide efficient and effective
    services to clients. In the short term, the
    objective of administrative supervision is to
    provide frontline social workers with a context
    that permits them to do their job effectively.

  • Difficulties identified with terminology, the
    word supervision having negative concepts around
    power imbalances, status and knowledge hierarchy
    for some (Cuss, 2005).
  • Other words such as mentoring, coaching, peer
    support and debriefing are used in some work
  • Ideas on alternative terms may be sought from
    participants during the research

Peer Supervision
  • Peer supervision in virtual teams refers to a
    team or group whose members work together to
    explore and reflect their own and each others
    professional experiences by supporting,
    analysing, planning and hypothetically testing
    the changes in their professional /or personal
    life of each other through telecommunication

  • Virtual teams a collection of individuals who
    are geographically /or organisationally or
    otherwise dispersed and who collaborate via
    communication and information technologies in
    order to accomplish a specific goal. Virtual
    teams have a common goal and rely on technology
    (Zigurs, 2003)

  • Qualitative Research
  • Interpretivist approach, that is interpretation
    or the act of making sense out of social
    interaction (Glesne Peshkin, 1992). Use of
    thick description (Geertz 1973),
  • Conceptual framework
  • Strengths-based theory
  • Action research

  • Trialling different peer supervision models in
    virtual teams using action research
  • Step One Participant interviews (pre trial)
  • Step Two Peer supervision groups, 4 groups of 4
    (total 16), meet once a month, for 12 months,
    using technology (phone or video link) Each
    session is for one hour.

Methodology continues
  • Step Three On-line evaluations of each
    supervision session completed by participants
    monthly for 12 months, immediately after each
    peer supervision session.
  • Step Four Individual exit interviews with each
    participant at the end of the 12 months trial
    period to evaluate the peer supervision models
    and processes.

Methodology - continued
  • Step Five Four focus groups will be conducted by
    the investigator as part of the evaluation of the
    peer supervision groups.

Structured Supervision Model
  • Use of The New Zealand Mentoring Centre (2000)
    The Power of Peer Supervision
  • Very positive feedback from participants
  • Use of eight prescribed processes
  • practice review, good news analysis, upsetting
    or critical incidents, Veridical Report,
    Professional Issues Review, Peer Review, Dress
    Rehearsals, Peer Responses

  • 2 x Individual interviews with the participants
    (1x interview pre trial
  • 1x interview post trial )
  • 12 online evaluations per participant using JCU
    web technology
  • 3 focus groups at conclusion of trial.
  • 2 x focus groups at mid point (after 6 months of

Data Analysis
  • Individual interviews will be analysed and main
    themes identified and collated
  • Data in the monthly evaluations on LearnJCU will
    be collated Significant feedback will be noted
    and fed back to participants monthly in line with
    the action research component of this research
  • Focus group discussion will be taped, transcribed
    and analysed. Use of tecnological help such as
    the Nvivo program is being considered

  • Participants have been recruited through contacts
    with two North Queensland organisations and a
    professional body, the AASW North Queensland and
    Queensland Branches. An email was forwarded to
    these contacts who forwarded it in turn to their
    employees and members, inviting interested social
    workers to participate in the peer supervision
    group trials.

Recruitment continued
  • Some individual social workers in rural and
    remote areas outside Queensland, also interested
    in participating, were contacted and forwarded
    information through their networks
  • Participation was voluntary
  • After 6 months, invited further participants by
    emails to SA and NT AASW membership and
    interested individuals at some conferences

Ethical Considerations
  • The research has ethics approval through JCUs
    Ethics committee.
  • All participants were voluntary, and could
    withdraw at any time.
  • All participants were professionals

Early Data Analysis
  • Recruited 20 participants from 6 states
  • 4 x WA 6 x Qld 3 x SA 3 x NSW 2 x Tas 2 x
  • Years of experience
  • 6 lt 5yrs 5 x 5-10yrs 4 x 11-20yrs 5 gt
  • Receive Supervision No 75 (15)
  • Yes 25
  • Employing agency type Government -15
  • Non-
    government - 5

Early Data Analysis
  • Participants reasons to become involved
  • to sustain the profession, very
    important, free, cost an issue, finding a
    good supervisor is hard, havent had
    supervision, to be a role model lead by
    example, to get supervision
  • One comment from a participant The AASW
    rhetoric re supervision is not matched in the

Early data analysis
  • Participant feedback on experience so far
  • The mix of people seems good and I think that
    we will all have something that we can learn from
    each other and contribute to each others
  • The fact that this group was meeting solely
    for the purpose of providing peer supervision,
    that we all had a commitment and a motivation to
    be involved was of most benefit.
  • I think the group size is very workable

Initial data analysis
  • Interaction with co-workers and exploring
    their work environments as well as professional
    practice models has been most beneficial
  • Part of the discussion was a debrief for me.
    I was feeling tired and overworked but the
    discussion was stimulating and energising

More participant feedback
  • Re a 2nd session of a group Session very
    informative, interesting and stimulating.
    Excellent quality of information from the 3 SW
    presenting their Good News Stories which were
    counselling, case management and community
    development. Good trust and openness in the
  • Of most benefit was the high quality of
    information from all 3 Good News presentations.
    Lots of process was discussed and social work
    assessment, intervention and advocacy were
    clearly demonstrated.

Feedback continued..
  • ..Changes in the lives of the clients was
    positive and significant to them. SW theory was
    being put into the workers practices. Great
    teaching and learning for me from listening to
    them. I felt I gained a richness of ideas. I also
    realised how helpful SW supervision is in
    overcoming the professional isolation of being a
    sole worker in multi-disciplinary teams. I am
    reminded of the need for reflective practice

Feedback from Focus Groups June and July 2007
  • The level of trust developed was such that we
    could expose our vulnerabilities and yet be safe
  • Having the peer supervision was de-stressing
    Good support, reflecting with other people
    encouraged a time of reflection (on practice)
  • Multiple perspectives good

Focus Group feedback
  • Hearing only vs seeing and hearing a different
    way of working initial struggle but then made
    me focus more
  • NZ Model accepted used a range of processes in
    the model. Good process tools used well.
  • Choices in the model good. Its processes and
    language good.

Focus group feedback
  • Shared Social Work knowledge sharing with
    people who understood. Purposeful and positive
  • Sense of belonging
  • Good value supervision values clear, ethics and
    frameworks. Perspectives from across the sector
    slice of different organisations

Focus group feedback
  • Advantages of peer supervision include that you
    get a slice of peoples experience. If limited
    to one supervisor, you are limited to their
    experience. Greater exchange from more careers
    more opportunities
  • Took a commitment. Sometimes not prepared
    difference in quality if not prepared.

Focus group feedback contd
  • Forced me once a month to think about my role,
    skills and issues as a social worker
  • In different areas gained information,
    knowledge and skills
  • Prepared looked to the model.
  • Not prepared winging it model.

Focus group feedback
  • Unstructured unprepared
  • Minimum size 3, for an hour. Two people too
  • One hour for 4 too short even 1 hour 20minutes
    would be ok for four. Three in one hour worked
  • Anonymity by phone contributing strength.
  • Supervision with line manager much more guarded
    / filtered

Feedback from exit interviews,July 2007
  • I experience supervision one to one and meet
    with a group of social workers in a group
    regularly. This peer supervision is on a par with
    those experiences, but different. It is similar
    in terms of impact, however, I have put less time
    into the peer supervision

Exit interview feedback
  • The social work values and processes were
    beneficial. What developed exceeded expectations
    great camaraderie
  • It was a developing process where other people
    could discuss cases. Could give and receive. Good
    to offer support.

Exit interviews continued
  • Evolving process. Had to build trust and
  • Flexibility proceeded by structure.
  • Need structure or it doesnt work at all.
  • Model interesting. Started structured. Then
    structure to develop flexability in the model

Issues to date
  • Cost of teleconference calls - - now resolved
  • Lack of access to video link technology
  • Participants travelling across large geographic
    areas affecting availability
  • Turnover of rural staff changing jobs,
    resignations no longer able to participate
  • Two of the four groups folded after the first few
    months (reasons included too busy to continue
    involvement under-staffed cant commit to
    extra activities un-structured format not
    meeting needs resignations job changes). Fifth
    group struggled with numbers, availability to

Next Steps
  • The 12 months trial has finished
  • Have completed focus groups for 2 groups at
    the mid point (at 6 months) and with three groups
    at 12 months.
  • Have completed exit interviews with all
  • Comprehensive data analysis yet to be done

In Conclusion
  • The research is relevant and important because
  • Gap in current literature
  • provide a method of supervision that will assist
    in the retention of skilled professionals in
    rural and remote areas
  • of interest to other allied health professionals
    for similar reasons
  • contribute to the acceptance and use of peer
    supervision as a preferred and valid form of
    supervision for social workers
  • Contribute to the acceptance of using technology
    as a legitimate method in the provision of
    professional supervision

In Conclusion
  • The trial has provided evidence of the experience
    and effectiveness of different models of peer
  • Recommendations for best practice in peer
    supervision using technology will be developed on
    this basis

Contact details
  • For more information, contact
  • Phone 61 7 4781 6037