Shift to online training could jeopardise ‘safe’ AMHP practice, warn social workers

Face-to-face and practice-based learning need to be core methods used by Approved Mental Health Professional training programmes, The College of Social Work warns, amid concerns over 'shift to e-learning'.

A shift towards online ‘e-learning’ by programmes training social workers as Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHP) risks trainees missing out on skills and experience required for ‘safe and effective practice’, The College of Social Work has warned.

Face-to-face and practice-based learning need to be the “primary delivery mechanisms” for training, The College’s AMHP leads network said in its response to a consultation  on AMHP training standards run by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). 

The HCPC has the powers to approve AMHP programmes and is currently reviewing the standards it uses to accredit courses.

“The network has concerns about the move towards e-learning as a mode of learning with this programme,” The College’s response said.

The HCPC should demand that courses have an “appropriate balance between classroom and practice learning” and maintain the current minimum requirement of 45 days in placement, The College said.

Other issues raised in The College’s response include:

  • Pre-course admission requirements, including the level of mental health knowledge required by applicants, are “inconsistent across the country” as these are currently not part of the HCPC standards. 
  • The statutory duties of AMHPs under the Mental Health Act “need to be explicitly stated in the criteria” for programme approval.
  • Standards relating to the partnerships between course providers and practice/placement settings should be included to ensure there is “a clarity of process” and “clear accountability” where concerns about a candidate’s performance arise.

The HCPC consultation specifically asks whether it should require service user involvement in AMHP programmes as a condition of accreditation.

The College agreed that service user and carer involvement should be “a core requirement of programme delivery” but said that carers should be involved in programmes in their own right, rather than as part of a generic ‘service user involvement’ standard, as relatives have distinct duties under the Mental Health Act.

is Community Care’s community editor

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