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Consultation on new education and training approval standards for approved mental capacity professionals

This consultation relates to the role of the approved mental capacity professional (AMCP), the successor qualification to best interests assessor (BIA).

Consultation on new education and training approval standards for approved mental capacity professionals

Published: 9 May 2022

This consultation relates to the role of the approved mental capacity professional (AMCP), the successor qualification to best interests assessor, which is being consulted on in the Department of Health and Social Care’s (DHSC’s) consultation on Liberty Protection Safeguards.

We are also consulting on the role of approved mental health professionals (AMHP).


In addition to setting and upholding the professional standards for all social workers in England, we approve training for certain advanced roles, and include these roles as annotations on our register. One of these areas is mental capacity, and we are now consulting on a new set of standards which we will use to approve courses leading to the specialist award of approved mental capacity professional (AMCP).

This role is being introduced in 2023 under the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Act 2019 and will replace the role of best interests assessor (BIA).

These standards that we are consulting on, like the standards that apply to qualifying social work education and training, set out our expectations for what courses need to do to be sure that those who qualify from them can practise as safe and effective AMCPs.

More detail about the AMCP role and our responsibility for assuring the public’s confidence in AMCPs will be set out in the regulations being consulted on by the Department of Health and Social Care (more information is provided about this below, in the ‘what happens next’ section) and a further consultation on our own rules later this year.

If the proposed regulations change as a response to the consultation by the Department of Health and Social Care, we may need to reconsider how these standards would fit into the regulatory framework.

About the introduction of the Liberty Protection Safeguards

The role of AMCP is being introduced under the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Act 2019 and replaces the BIA which is part of the current legal framework.

This act is introducing a new legal framework to protect the rights of people who have been deprived of their liberty for their own safety or treatment. It will ensure that such deprivations are lawful when the person in question does not have the mental capacity to challenge them.

The new legal framework is called Liberty Protection Safeguards, and one of the most important safeguards is that an AMCP will assess whether a deprivation of liberty will 'prevent harm to the cared-for person and [is] proportionate in relation to the likelihood and seriousness of harm [note 1]'. They will determine which other organisations and professionals will plan and deliver care and support for, and with, the person.

The AMCP will not always carry out assessments themselves, but they will evaluate assessments made by other professionals and give an overall determination on whether the three conditions for authorising a deprivation of liberty are met. This overall determination of an AMCP will carry more weight than the recommendations previously made by best interests assessors.

[note 1] Schedule AA1 to the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Act 2019.

Why are we introducing these standards?

To become an AMCP, you need to be registered in any of five professions:

  • social worker (registered with Social Work England, the Scottish Social Services Council, the Northern Ireland Social Care Council or Social Care Wales)
  • nurse (registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council)
  • occupational therapist, psychologist or speech and language therapist (registered with the Health and Care Professions Council)

The training for an AMCP is the same regardless of their regulated profession. To ensure consistency of oversight, Social Work England is named in law as the responsible regulator for overseeing this training on behalf of all regulators in England. We have worked closely with our fellow regulators to make sure that our proposed standards work for all five eligible professions.

It is important to note that we will be granted the power to approve qualifying AMCP courses through the Mental Capacity Act Regulations that will formally create the Liberty Protection Safeguards framework. The Department of Health and Social Care has published a consultation on these draft Regulations and the Code of Practice which will support it.

To provide as much time as possible for course providers to design and seek approval for their courses, we have worked closely with the Department for Health and Social Care and fellow regulators to bring draft standards out for consultation at the earliest opportunity while making sure that it is fully in line with the Department’s proposed regulations. You can read these proposed regulations on the Department for Health and Social Care website.

These regulations are currently still in draft, but once they have come into effect, we will have the formal legal power to set these standards and will do so as soon as possible.

How we got here

To develop new standards for courses that will qualify professionals to work as an AMCP, we drew first from our education and training standards for qualifying social work education. This provided a basis for consistency and meant we could draw across areas that will be relevant to the new role.

To develop the draft standards for consultations, we talked to a range of people, including:

  • people with lived experience
  • social work practitioners and managers
  • NHS and local authority employers
  • universities and private course providers
  • our partner regulators, the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the Health and Care Professions Council.

Ideas, experiences and expertise of the people we have initially engaged with have allowed us to develop the standards which we are now consulting on.

We are inviting feedback on these proposed standards and have set out a series of questions about specific aspects of them. We are also hosting a series of consultation events, where anyone who has an interest will be able to give us feedback directly on the proposed standards.

How to respond

Before responding to the consultation, we recommend you:

  • read through the above information, which gives the background to the education and training standards for AMCP qualifying courses;
  • familiarise yourself with the Department of Health and Social Care consultation; and
  • read the draft standards at the bottom of this page.

Please remember that these standards do not apply to individual AMCPs. These standards are for the providers of AMCP training courses.

The consultation period is 12 weeks and will end at midday (12pm) on Monday 1 August 2022.

Complete the online survey

You can also respond by email to: [email protected]. Please use ’AMCP consultation‘ as the email title.

If you need any reasonable adjustments to help you respond, please contact us at [email protected].

Please note that if you are also interested in our proposed standards for qualifying courses for approved mental health professionals (AMHPS), you will need to respond separately.

View and respond to the AMHP consultation

Consultation events

We are also hosting consultation events on the following dates. Please note tickets to these events are limited:

  • Tuesday 24 May, 2pm to 3.30pm
  • Monday 6 June, 6pm to 7.30pm
  • Thursday 23 June, 2pm to 3.30pm

Register for an event

Summary of consultation questions

The following are the questions from the online consultation survey. The proposed standards referenced in these questions can be found at the bottom of this page.

Question 1

To what extent do you agree that the standards accurately reflect the requirements of the role of approved mental capacity professional (AMCP)?

Question 2

In relation to standard 1, to what extent do you think the language reflects what an applicant should be able to demonstrate upon admission to the course?

Question 3

In relation to standard 2.3, to what extent do you think this standard will successfully encourage course providers to show that they have considered the flexibility of training routes in their strategic planning?

Question 4

Is there anything in the standards that you don’t understand?

Question 5

Do you think that these standards could impact any persons with a protected characteristic? If so, is it positively, or negatively, and how? The Equality Act (2010) lists nine protected characteristics: age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership and pregnancy and maternity.

Question 6

Do you have any other comments?

What happens next?

Once the consultation closes, we will analyse the responses received. We will then consider whether to make a final set of changes to reflect what people tell us. We will then publish the new standards and they will come into force as part of the implementation of the Mental Capacity Act Regulations and Code of Practice. The exact timing will be decided by the outcome of the Department of Health and Social Care’s Liberty Protection Safeguards consultation.

We will also publish guidance to support course providers to meet the new education and training standards.

Our proposed standards

Purpose of this document

These are the standards that Social Work England will, in due course, use to approve and monitor courses qualifying a professional to act as an approved mental capacity professional (AMCP). Standards are the criteria by which we will assess whether a course should be approved to offer, or continue to offer, AMCP training.

You should read these standards alongside the following documents:

Definitions and terms

Relevant qualified professionals

Any of the professionals listed as eligible for approval by a local authority in England to act on their behalf as an AMCP under Regulation 3 of the draft Mental Capacity Regulations. They must be registered with the relevant regulatory body. Relevant qualified professionals are:

  • social workers (registered with Social Work England);
  • nurses (registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council); or
  • speech and language therapists, psychologists or occupational therapists (registered with the Health and Care Professions Council).

Relevant regulatory body

Any regulatory body mentioned in the regulations as being responsible for the professional registration of those eligible for approval as an AMCP.

  • Health and Care Professions Council
  • Nursing and Midwifery Council
  • Social Work England
  • Scottish Social Services Council
  • Social Care Wales
  • Northern Ireland Social Care Council

People with lived experience

We recognise that different regulators and professions use different terms to describe the people that their professionals seek to support, together with their carers. For example, ‘patient’ or ’service user’. As these standards are the statutory responsibility of Social Work England, we have used the term ’people with lived experience’, which includes carers, to cover this.


We have used the term ‘student’ throughout this document. We use this to mean anyone learning, studying or training on a course approved by us for qualifying as an AMCP. The term includes trainees, apprentices and practitioners in training or work-based learning and applies to all relevant qualified professionals regardless of their regulatory body.

Standard 1: Admissions

1. Education and training providers will:

1.1. Confirm on entry to the course that applicants have:

  • i. the potential to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to meet the specialist standards;
  • ii. the potential to acquire and demonstrate the competencies set out in the relevant legislation governing AMCP practice [note 3];
  • iii. the capability to meet the academic requirements of the course; and
  • iv. the capability to use information and communication technology (ICT) methods and techniques to achieve course outcomes.

1.2. Confirm that applicants are and remain fully registered with a relevant regulatory body in line with the relevant regulations.

1.3. Confirm that applicants have, and can demonstrate, suitable prior experience of the practical application of appropriate legislation and policy, specifically including but not limited to mental capacity, mental health and human rights legislation.

1.4. Confirm that applicants have a robust and advanced level of legal literacy in appropriate legislative and policy areas including relevant and up to date case law.

1.5. Ensure that employers, placement providers, and people with lived experience of social work are involved in admissions processes.

1.6. Ensure that the admissions processes assess the suitability of applicants, including in relation to their conduct, health and character. This includes appropriate criminal conviction checks.

1.7. Ensure that there are equality, diversity and inclusion policies in relation to applicants and that they are implemented and monitored.

1.8. Ensure that the admissions process gives applicants the information they require to make an informed choice about whether to take up a place. This will include information about the award level and professional qualification, course content, teaching modes, location of study, assessment methods, duration, and observation requirements including the expectations around arranging or securing observation opportunities.

[note 3] The Mental Capacity (Deprivation of Liberty: Training and Criteria for Approval as an Approved Mental Capacity Professional) (England) Regulations 2021 (Title TBC on publication)

Standard 2: Course governance, management and quality

2. Education and training providers will:

2.1. Ensure courses are supported by a management and governance plan that includes the roles, responsibilities and lines of accountability of individuals and governing groups in the delivery, resourcing and quality management of the course.

2.2. Ensure that regular and effective monitoring, evaluation and improvement systems are in place, and that these involve employers, people with relevant lived experience including carers, and students.

2.3. Ensure that the number of students admitted is aligned to a clear strategy, which includes consideration of:

  • local and regional capacity for observation opportunities; and
  • the availability of part-time or other flexible course arrangements to widen access wherever possible.

2.4. Ensure that the person with overall professional responsibility for the course is a relevant qualified professional (social worker, occupational therapist, speech and language therapist, psychologist or nurse) with appropriate experience.

2.5. Ensure that there is adequate provision of appropriately qualified and experienced staff.

2.6. Ensure that educators are supported to maintain their knowledge and understanding in relation to mental capacity legislation and policy, and the practical application of this via the Liberty Protection Safeguards system, including giving support to undertake continuing professional development relevant to their role.

Standard 3: Curriculum

3. Education and training providers will:

3.1. Ensure that the content, structure and delivery of the training is in accordance with relevant guidance and frameworks and is designed to enable students to demonstrate that they have the required knowledge and skills.

3.2. Ensure that each student has the opportunity to undertake a minimum of 2 practice observation opportunities which:

  • 3.2.1. enable the student to carry out AMCP practice tasks under observation
  • 3.2.2. provide practice experience that can be applied to a variety of settings and types of responsible body
  • 3.2.3. offer a range of relevant qualified professional perspectives
  • 3.2.4. are overseen by a suitably qualified and experienced relevant qualified professional who has relevant and current knowledge, skills and experience to support safe and effective practice.

3.3. Ensure that the number, duration and range of observation opportunities is appropriate to support the delivery of the course and the achievement of the learning outcomes.

3.4. Maintain clear collaborative arrangements for planning and communication with providers including a thorough and effective system for approving and monitoring all observation opportunities.

3.5. Ensure that policies and processes, including for whistleblowing, are in place for students to challenge unsafe behaviours and cultures and organisational wrongdoing, and report concerns openly and safely without fear of adverse consequences.

Standard 4: Practice placements

4. Education and training providers will:

4.1. Ensure that the content, structure and delivery of the training is in accordance with relevant guidance and frameworks and is designed to enable students to demonstrate that they have the necessary knowledge and skills to meet the requirements of the AMCP role as set out in the Group F requirements of the Liberty Protection Safeguards national training framework.

4.2. Ensure that the views of employers, practitioners and people with lived experience of social work are incorporated into the design, ongoing development and review of the curriculum.

4.3. Ensure that the course is designed in accordance with equality, diversity and inclusion principles, and fully aligned with and informed by human rights and mental capacity legislation and the principles of anti-discriminatory, anti-oppressive or anti-racist practice.

4.4. Ensure that the course is continually updated as a result of developments in research, legislation, government policy, best practice, and case law.

4.5. Ensure that the integration of policy, legal literacy and practice is central to the course.

4.6. Ensure that students are given the opportunity to work with, learn from, and understand the other professions eligible to work as AMCPs.

4.7. Ensure that the number of hours spent in structured academic learning under the direction of an educator is sufficient to ensure that students meet the required level of competence.

4.8. Provide relevant staff involved in leading and delivering the training with sufficient protected training time to keep their own practice and knowledge up to date in line with statutory and regulatory requirements.

4.9. Ensure that the assessment strategy and design demonstrate that the assessments are robust, fair, reliable and valid, and that those who successfully complete the course have developed the knowledge and skills necessary to make robust, independent and well-evidenced determinations in the best interests of the person.

4.10. Ensure students are provided with feedback throughout the course to support their ongoing development.

4.11. Ensure that the course is designed to enable students to develop an evidence-informed approach to assessment and evaluation leading to determinations, underpinned by skills, knowledge and an ability to interpret and respond appropriately to legislative and policy change and case law.

4.12. Ensure that the course provides an opportunity for students to develop their learning in areas not within their prior or current professional practice

4.13. Ensure that the course equips students with knowledge and skills in relation to identifying and mediating conflict between individuals and agencies to support a robust, independent and well-evidenced determination in the best interests of the person.

4.14. Regularly monitor and evaluate assessment standards.

4.15. Clearly specify requirements for student progression and achievement within the course.

4.16. Clearly specify that any aegrotat award which may be made will not lead to eligibility to be approved as an AMCP.

4.17. Clearly specify a process for the appointment of at least 1 external examiner who must be an appropriately experienced and qualified relevant qualified professional.

Standard 5: Supporting students

5. Education and training providers will:

5.1. Ensure that students have access to resources to support their health and wellbeing including:

  • i. confidential counselling services; and
  • ii. careers advice and support

The course must also equip students to understand the potential impact of AMCP practice on their own emotional and mental wellbeing, and the importance of identifying ways to handle this impact.

5.2. Ensure that students have access to system of academic and pastoral student support for their progression, development, wellbeing and welfare.

5.3. Ensure that there is a thorough and effective process for ensuring the ongoing suitability of students’ conduct, character and health.

5.4. Make reasonable adjustments for students with health conditions or impairments to enable them to progress through their course and meet the specialist standards, in accordance with relevant legislation.

5.5. Provide timely information to students about their curriculum, observation requirements, assessments, and implications for their continuing practice, including arrangements for annotation of the register and requirements for periodic refresher training.

5.6. Ensure that students are able to draw links between the completion of their AMCP training and ongoing refresher training and continuing professional requirements such as continuing professional development or requirements.

5.7. Provide timely and meaningful feedback to students on their progression and performance in assessments.

5.8. Ensure there is an effective process in place for students to make academic appeals.

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