AMHP and approved mental capacity professional training standards finalised

    Social Work England makes minor changes to proposals on back of consultation, including expecting trainees to demonstrate anti-racist, anti-oppressive and anti-discriminatory practice principles

    Headline Standards on note pad; office desk with electronic devices, computer and paper, wood table from above
    Photo: MichaelJBerlin/Adobe Stock

    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of Health and Social Care saying Social Work England had wrongly pointed to an October 2023 start date in a since unpublished board paper.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.

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    12 Responses to AMHP and approved mental capacity professional training standards finalised

    1. Violet November 15, 2022 at 9:09 am #

      A perfect demonstration of what a hollow entity SWE is. How is dropping a legal requirement standard because it might disadvantage candidates consistent with improving standards? A regulator committed to improvement would have as it’s first consideration how a proposal impacts positively on the person at the other side of the practitioner. Being treated fairly and making decisions with full knowledge of and complying with law should be the bare minimum. Not the accommodation of the lack of knowledge of the candidate. Pitiful reasoning but more importantly contemptuous of people. SWE once again relying on third parties to do their work for them.

      • David Finch November 18, 2022 at 3:15 pm #

        It is referring to ‘applicants’. These are people not yet trained as AMHPs, so it would not be reasonable to expect an advanced level of legal knowledge. That is partly what the training instils in AMHP trainees. The benefit of not needing advanced legal knowledge when applying is that it could encourage people other than SW’s to apply, which would be a good thing. So the change is likely to be of benefit to people being assessed under the MHA.

    2. Brian November 15, 2022 at 3:15 pm #

      I must be one of the very few social workers who sat the exam to become an ASW under the then new MHA.. That was ditched too because of the high rate of failure to pass. There may not be an equvilance here but it disheartens me that the professions first response to anything that practitioners find difficult is to get rid rather than look at why that might be.

    3. Jess M November 15, 2022 at 4:52 pm #

      Amazing to see that Wayne Reid’s work on anti-racism is still influencing SWE!

      • Doreen November 18, 2022 at 9:40 am #

        His legacy is alive and kicking!

    4. Matty D November 15, 2022 at 8:40 pm #

      I’m not sure these principles would have been included without Wayne Reid’s work on anti-racism.

    5. Claire November 15, 2022 at 9:10 pm #

      When I trained as an AMHP in 2002 not only was a module over two.days om anti- racist, anti-discriminatory practice but culturally appropriate treatment and assessment. I also had to demonstrate understanding and uplication in two case studies. What’s new here?

    6. Jacek November 15, 2022 at 10:24 pm #

      Does this mean AMHPs will no longer be doing what their doctor chums tell.them and stop being pretend medics? Does this mean AMHPs will actually spend time with people in mental health crises and listen to them rather than sign their sacred pink forms? Dies this mean AMHPs will noonger tell.people that they are not having a crisis without seeing them? Does this mean families will no longer be pressured into looking after their loved ones because “there arexno beds” nor be blamed for being the cause of distress? Dies this mean anything other than font ask don’t tell business as usual practice? Dies this mean AMHPs will be required to own the power imbalance between them and the people they are assessing and acknowledge that some times they collude with oppressive service led practice? Asking as a soon to retire AMHP.

    7. David Kemp November 16, 2022 at 7:09 pm #

      I have carried out a number of MCA assessments and after a Dols have placed a number of service users in nursing / care homes depriving them of their liberty. I had completed the appropriate training and did this in what I believe to be there best interests. However I have thought for some time that a qualification similar to what has been proposed would have given me and the service users greater protection. This has been needed for a long time.

    8. Samuel November 17, 2022 at 8:48 am #

      The law is the best protection of a person’s rights. If social workers are advised to circumvent law than no amount of training will make them better practitioners. It has become the default position for social workers to ask for more training rather than think about their own responsibilities as self reflective practitioners. We are social workers not just because we are trained and registered. We should chafe against the erosion of autonomy and our values should always fight the bureaucratisation of our practice. Falling back on training to always show us the better path is abbrogating responsibility to stand with people we work with rather than distancing ourselves by decrying poor training.

      • David Kemp November 17, 2022 at 11:46 am #

        Hi Daniel
        Having read your reflection and going over mine again. Do you think that we could benefit from increased training especially on the legal aspects of the MCA without distancing ourselves from our Citzens (service users). Would our professional judgement and our ability to make our own decisions using our professional judgement be improved by increased training?
        Please give me some feedback.

        • Daniel November 17, 2022 at 3:58 pm #

          Of course training and in particular legal competence is core to good practice. I constantly lament how few opportunities for meaningful and rigorous trading we have now. My point isn’t any particular colleague but I sincerely believe that it’s become almost a mantra in our profession to blame a lack of training or poor training for our shortcomings. I have had the very unpleasant experience of attending 3 Coroner’s hearings in my 29 yr career and at each one my authorities put forward the inadequate training as as significant contributed to the ‘incidents’. My point is a simple one. We shouldn’t judge our practice against good or poor training alone. I think that emphasis does put a distance between us and the people we work alongside of. Looking at us, our teams, our supervision, our policies, our political directives are the essence for me. I often think training is used as a ruse by our managers in particular to deflect from that. My point is simply that. I actually think that the way you have engaged in this David, demonstrates how we aren’t actually far apart. I too value training that gives us expertise. However I do not believe what SWE are proposing gets us that. Those of us who reflect on our practice, do our own research, study, speak to other colleagues have a better nuanced understanding of how our services impact on those using them than what is invariably a legal briefing from our employers packed up as training. The answer is within you might reflect my Buddhist beliefs and of course deprivation of liberty and judging capacity are quite complex issues but I do think our human values shouldn’t be obscured ever. We all do what we do in the best way we know how always so my good wishes to you.