Turning knowledge into action with great clinical supervision.

With more and more allied health professionals migrating to the private sector clinical supervision is a hot topic. How are private practices and small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) working towards clinical excellence that involves not just obtaining new clinical skills but implementing new learning and evaluating its positive impact on client’s lives?

In the private sector I get that it is difficult. I’ve been there and done that as a business owner. It costs to send a therapists off for a one day workshop and there is the issue of paying clients needing to be cancelled. However, clinical excellence is critical to children and families kicking goals, deepening their own understanding and skills and making personal functional gains. As a business owner, if your therapists improve, so too will the skills and lives of your clients and so too will the reputation of your business. These are terrific topics that I urge you to discuss with your private practice business coach. Here are some suggestions for getting that three way win, win, win.

For far flung teams, teleconference, Google Hangouts and Skype are great options; however they are only as good as they are structured and facilitated. A culture of sharing and participating needs to be strongly coached along with agreement to complete any pre-reading. I adore facilitating such conversations and learn a fortune with every single call. Such calls can be recorded and available for those that missed the call or would like to review. Virtual conversations are cheap, cheerful and when expertly lead get people talking, reflecting and turning knowledge into action. This model suits contractors and remote teams nicely.

Peer review is where equally matched colleagues co work with a client, whether assessment, parent support or intervention then share their insights and ideas afterwards. Peer review is surprisingly underutilised given the benefits of ensuring quality work, team cohesion and provision of a clinical sounding board. The peers may be of the same or different discipline but join with the intent of mutual support and guidance. The family will need prior approval but they are nearly always happy to participate in the spirit of ‘two heads are better than one’. This provides the chance for observation, collaborative consultation, modelling of new skills and a skilful de-brief at the end of the session. With practice there may be a call to action as a result of the session and some accountability to the peer. How could this work for you and a peer?

In-house meetings are tried and trusted, perhaps with the emphasis on the tried? To keep energy and participation high, creative facilitation and variety is required. Suggestions include

  • guest speakers
  • journal articles
  • show and tell segments
  • unpacking complex topics
  • exploring online resources in real time
  • case studies
  • analysing video
  • reviewing you tube for specific topics
  • re working clinical observation checklists
  • journal or reference reviews and
  • … the list continues.

The skilled facilitator will work to provide great content and through coaching generate sharing, reflection and a call to action (CTA). I suspect that lots of team meetings need a good old shake-up. What could you introduce that would generate thinking and conversation?

Face-to-face supervision whether weekly, fortnightly or monthly is the default. Quantity supervision may not mean quality supervision as clinical supervision is a skilled dance between mentoring, coaching and sharing information. The supervisor need to be rich in topic expertise and a skilled teacher. Clinical supervision has to consist of more than talking about the therapists clients! I have seen a coaching approach (face-to-face and virtual) work beautifully during my years of supervising and growing therapists. How can you deepen the clinical supervision experience?

The usual suspects, workshops, webinars, interactive teleconferences, interest groups, meetings hold their own time and cost value. However, as they are all arms distance from the therapists day to day activities of assessment, parent support and intervention. I would like to suggest that these external events require even greater management to bridge the new learning from the pages of manuals way over into the clinic, classroom or home.

In summary, the process of developing clinical excellence, delighted clients and a strong reputable business are heavily dependent on good and creative management. You are encouraged to be clear on both how you will provide great new learning opportunities, how you will manage the transfer into clinical practice and measure the impact.

With increasing competition in the allied health market place performance management may be a key to standing out and serving your clients brilliantly.

Cathy Love

Occupational Therapist, Disability Service Consultant, Coach, Facilitator.

E:           cathy@nacre.com.au

M:          0488 316 319

W:          www.nacre.com.au

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