Social Work England has finalised training standards for approved mental health professionals (AMHPs) and the new role of approved mental capacity professional (AMCP) following consultation.
The social work regulator made minor changes to its draft proposals for each set of standards on the back of feedback from 47 respondents to the AMHP consultation and 31 to the AMCP one. The latter role will come into being with the implementation of the Liberty Protection Safeguards, with a remit to determine whether conditions have been met for a person to be deprived of their liberty for the purposes of care and treatment.
Social Work England will use the standards to approve, re-approve and monitor courses for people to qualify as AMHPs and AMCPs in England, a role it also performs for AMHP courses and those for best interests assessors, the closest equivalent role to the AMCP under the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS). Though nurses, occupational therapists and psychologists are able to qualify as AMHPs and BIAs, the vast majority of both are social workers, as is expected to be the case with AMCPs, though speech and language therapists will also be able to perform the AMCP role in addition to the other professions.
There is no timetable as yet for the implementation of the LPS – with the Department of Health and Social Care saying Social Work England had wrongly pointed to an October 2023 start date in a since unpublished board paper. The AMCP standards will come into force once this is known and courses can be set up, while Social Work England said the AMHPs standards would come into force no earlier than summer 2023.
Each set of standards will be accompanied by guidance for course providers on meeting them.
Increased requirements on anti-oppressive practice
Among changes made by the regulator in response to consultation was adding a requirement for courses to ensure that applicants can “demonstrate a commitment to anti-racist, anti-discriminatory and anti-oppressive practice”.
Respondents said this was a logical extension of a separate standards for the design of courses to be fully aligned with and informed by the principles of anti-discriminatory, anti-oppressive and anti-racist practice.
It also dropped plans to require applicants to demonstrate an “advanced level of legal literacy”. It said it agreed with respondents who felt may disadvantage non-social work applicants – who would likely not have as detailed a knowledge of the law as social workers – and others who said a purpose of qualifying courses was to instill an advanced level of legal knowledge.
What the standards say
Both standards set the following requirements for providers of AMHP and AMCP courses:
- Admissions: to ensure that applicants have “suitable prior experience” of applying appropriate legislation and policy, including in relation to mental health, mental capacity and human rights, and a “robust level of legal literacy”, and can demonstrate a commitment to anti-racist, anti-discriminatory and anti-oppressive practice.
- Course management: to ensure there is adequate provision of appropriately qualified and experienced teaching staff, and that they are supported to maintain their knowledge and understanding.
- Course design: to ensure that courses are fully aligned with and informed by the principles of anti-discriminatory, anti-oppressive and anti-racist practice.
- Supporting students: to ensure that students have access to resources to support their health and wellbeing, including through confidential counselling services and careers advice.
There are also several standards specific to each role, for example:
- AMCP: to ensure the student has at least two opportunities to carry out AMCP tasks under observation by a suitably qualified professional.
- AMHP: to ensure practice placements are integral to the course, their number, duration and range are appropriate to meeting learning outcomes and, through collaboration with providers, that they provide a safe and supportive environment and have an adequate number of appropriately trained and qualified staff.