Learning from PPO Investigations: End-of-Life Care

Mar 26, 2013
With a large and ageing prison population, the Prison Service has to deal with more foreseeable deaths from terminal and incurable illnesses than ever before. This brings new challenges for both prison regimes and prison facilities to accommodate the end of life care needs for those prisoners who require them. This report looks at how the Prison Service is responding to these challenges and is focused on a sample of 214 prisoners who died from a terminal illness in prison between January 2007 and October 2012.
  • Prisoners are entitled to an equivalent level of healthcare in prison as they could have expected to receive in the community, including care for a terminal illness or incurable disease.
  • Most prison buildings and facilities were not designed with an elderly population in mind. This can mean that those who are less mobile and in poorer health have more difficulty accessing services or taking part in meaningful activity in order to lead a purposeful active life in prison.
  • Longer sentences for serious offenses has led to an increasing population of older prisoners, leaving many prisons ill-equipped to deal with the medical and care needs of aging prisoners.
  • Prisoners aged 50 years and over make up 20% of the total high security population compared to only 12% of the rest of the prison population.
  • The level of end of life care provided to prisoners varied between prisons. Over a quarter (29%) of prisoners in the sample did not have a palliative care plan in place to support them and their families with their terminal illness.
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