Mental Capacity Act training for Healthcare Security Officers is a legal requirement says Jim O’Dwyer, Senior Consultant at AEGIS Protective Services.


Security Officer bed-watching patient

NHS Security Officers need MCA training

It is not uncommon for Healthcare Security Officers to be assigned to take charge of and ‘safeguard’ patients who may lack mental capacity to make certain decisions for themselves.

When it happens, NHS Security Officers can sometimes find themselves alone with a patient and needing to make appropriate best interest decisions on their behalf, for which they may not have received any formal training.

(To the best of my knowledge, training on the Mental Capacity Act is not listed by many, if any, NHS Trusts as statutory/mandatory training for Healthcare Security Officers and is not provided.)

The thing is, given the nature of the duties and responsibilities of Healthcare Security Officers when safeguarding patients who lack mental capacity, (including restraint and deprivation of liberty), this is a significant shortfall in training provision that will put NHS Trusts in breach of legal requirements and at risk of more than criticism, in the event an adverse incident occurs.

The legal requirement

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) applies in England and Wales.

The MCA is supported by a Code of Practice (MCA CoP) which provides guidance and information anyone working with and/or caring for adults who may lack capacity to make particular decisions.

The MCA CoP states that certain categories of people are legally required to have regard to relevant guidance in the Code of Practice and that they must be aware of the Code of Practice when acting or making decisions on behalf of someone who lacks capacity to make a decision for themselves, and they should be able to explain how they have had regard to the Code when acting or making decisions.

The MCA CoP has statutory force.

According to the MCA CoP, people required to have regard to the CoP include ‘anyone acting in a professional capacity for or in relation to a person who lacks capacity working’ and ‘anyone being paid for acts for or in relation to a person who lacks capacity’.

The MCA CoP provides examples.

People who may be acting in a professional capacity:

  • a variety of healthcare staff (doctors, dentists, nurses, therapists, radiologists, paramedics etc)
  • social care staff (social workers, care managers, etc)
  • others who may occasionally be involved in the care of people who lack capacity to make the decision in question, such as ambulance crew, housing workers, or police officers. (My Bold)

People who are being paid for acts for or in relation to a person who lacks capacity may include:

  • care assistants in a care home
  • care workers providing domiciliary care services, and
  • others who have been contracted to provide a service to people who lack capacity to consent to that service. (My Bold)

My interpretation of the wording in the MCA CoP is that Healthcare Security Officers deployed to ‘safeguard’ patients who may lack capacity for decision making must be provided with suitable instruction, guidance and training on relevant aspects of the Mental Capacity Act, so that they can, if required, explain how they have had regard to the Code when acting or making decisions.

Accessing suitable training

Suitable training in relevant aspects of the Mental Capacity Act is incorporated in the new, version 2, Healthcare Security Officer Training course which is now available.

The training now explains powers of detention under the MCA and the difference between a restriction of someone’s liberty and a deprivation of their liberty. It also introduces learners to how Mental Capacity is assessed and provides a simple model to work to. In addition, the section on safeguarding vulnerable people now provides more detailed information and guidance.

To find out more about the AEGIS Healthcare Security Officer Training programme, click the link below.

Healthcare Security Officer Training

If you would like to discuss your training needs, please contact:

Jim O'Dwyer FICM
Jim O’Dwyer
Senior Consultant
AEGIS Protective Services
T: 01202 773736