Watchdogs warn over prison social care - Alzheimer's Society comments

The prison service and local authorities are failing to plan for a rise in elderly, ill and frail inmates, according to a new report from the HM Inspectorate of Prisons and the Care Quality Commission.

The report highlighted the absence of a comprehensive national strategy for the provision of social care in jails and said the ageing population within prisons, coupled with increasing frailty and incidence of dementia, has accelerated the need for prisons to address social care needs.

Sally Copley, Alzheimer’s Society Director of Policy, Campaigns and Partnerships, said:

'The report echoes what we’ve seen from our work in prisons - that they’re not fit for purpose if you have dementia.

'The number of over 50s in prisons has already increased by 150% since 2002, and more and more will be developing dementia every year. But the healthcare staff we spoke to in three different prisons told us they don’t feel adequately trained to assess and support prisoners with dementia, and find it difficult to distinguish between the effects of alcohol and substance abuse and dementia symptoms.

'Prison officers tell us that they very rarely come across people with dementia, but we know the reality is that there are people who enter the prison system who have undiagnosed dementia and they are not being detected.

'While it’s fundamental that we provide quality social care to everyone in prison who needs it, we also need to get better at identifying people in prisons with dementia so they can get that support.

'We’d advise the Ministry of Justice and NHS to consider providing dementia-specific training for staff to spot the early symptoms of dementia.'

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