How to create more supportive supervision for primary healthcare: lessons from Ngamiland district of Botswana: co-operative inquiry group
PublisherTaylor and Francis//http://taylorandfrancis.com/
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Background: Supportive supervision is a way to foster performance, productivity, motivation, and retention of health workforce. Nevertheless there is a dearth of evidence of the impact and acceptability of supportive supervision in low- and middle-income countries. This article describes a participatory process of transforming the supervisory practice of district health managers to create a supportive environment for primary healthcare workers. Objective: The objective of the study was to explore how district health managers can change their practice to create a more supportive environment for primary healthcare providers. Design: A facilitated co-operative inquiry group (CIG) was formed with Ngamiland health district managers. CIG belongs to the participatory action research paradigm and is characterised by a cyclic process of observation, reflection, planning, and action. The CIG went through three cycles between March 2013 and March 2014. Results: Twelve district health managers participated in the inquiry group. The major insights and learning that emerged from the inquiry process included inadequate supervisory practice, perceptions of healthcare workers’ experiences, change in the managers’ supervision paradigm, recognition of the supervisors’ inadequate supervisory skills, and barriers to supportive supervision. Finally, the group developed a 10-point consensus on what they had learnt regarding supportive supervision. Conclusion: Ngamiland health district managers have come to appreciate the value of supportive supervision and changed their management style to be more supportive of their subordinates. They also developed a consensus on supportive supervision that could be adapted for use nationally. Supportive supervision should be prioritised at all levels of the health system, and it should be adequately resourced.