Older male prisoners are not receiving adequate healthcare while they are in jail, new research suggests.
The University of Manchester found that 44% of prisons do not have a policy in place on care and management of older inmates, and the institutions suffered from a lack of integration between health and social care services.
The research also showed that often no plans were made for an older prisoner’s release from jail, meaning their health and social care needs were not met once they were out in the community unless they lived in probation-approved premises immediately upon release.
Around 85% of older prisoners have had one or more major illness, including cardiovascular disease, arthritis, back problems, respiratory diseases and depression. They also have an increased risk of becoming isolated and lacking social support, making it more likely for them to develop mental health problems.
The study, published by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Journals Library in Health Services and Delivery Research, examined serving male prisoners over the age of 60 in all jails in England and Wales.
It found some improvements since previous studies, including a rise in the number of prisons appointing a member of staff to act as an “older prisoner lead”. However, these staff did not always appear to be fully active in their duties to tailor and improve services for older prisoners.
It also found the Department of Health’s recommendation to provide older prisoners with a specific health and social care assessment when they arrived at prison was not often carried out.
Professor Jenny Shaw, who led the research, said specialised assessments were required for older patients because they have more complex health and social care needs than their younger counterparts and those of a similar age living in the community.
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