A new vision for social care in prisons: our response

Response by our Social Care Integration in Prisons Workstream to 'A new vision for social care in prisons' report by the University of Dundee.

“Social care supports people of all ages with certain physical, cognitive or age-related conditions in carrying out personal care or domestic routines. It helps people to sustain employment in paid or unpaid work, education, learning, leisure and other social support systems. It supports people in building social relationships and participating fully in society.” [Dilnot 2011]

We welcome this report by the University of Dundee which provides a foundation based on academic research for policy and practice decisions around the delivery of health and social care in Scottish prisons. We have given careful consideration to the contents of the report and hope that it will be used across prisons, Health Boards and Health and Social Care Partnerships to inform the development of personalised care for those living in prison.

People in prison are punished by the loss of their liberty, however people with disability or long term conditions experience additional difficulties within prison due to both the physical environment and the understanding of and attitudes to disability around them. By working with the Scottish Prison Service, the NHS, adult social services and wider partners, we want to increase awareness of the impact of disability and explore innovative ways to provide holistic, person centred health and social care.

In response to the recommendations made in this report, the Health and Social Care Integration in Prisons Workstream of the Scottish Government’s Health and Social Care in Prisons Programme is leading a range of work to develop a model of integrated health and social care provision which can be delivered in Scotland’s prisons. In particular, we are working:

  • with prisons, health boards and health and social care partnerships to develop ‘tests of change’ sites to create new ways of delivering integrated health and social care within the prison environment. The learning from these sites will be cascaded across health and social care partnerships and the prison estate
  • to identify which organisations are best placed to take responsibility for the provision of social care in prisons
  • to assess the resource requirement of this new area of work and how to distribute funds most effectively across prison areas
  • to develop links through Social Work Scotland to Criminal Justice Social Work and adult services social work to ensure the Workstream makes maximum use of the expertise and experiences of the social work and care sector
  • to explore options providing personal care services in prisons with organisations representing care service providers, whilst thinking about how these might be commissioned to ensure best value
  • to ensure that arrangements and systems are in place to enable organisations to share information safely and quickly to make sure people are not left without services at times of transition in and out of custody
  • to collate examples of good practice to inform the development of services in prisons
  • to explore ways of measuring improvements in outcomes for people in prison

In future, we hope that, through establishing and delivering integrated health and social care in prisons, people in prison will be able to access assessments and services on an equivalent footing to people in the community. The Scottish Government will work collaboratively with the Scottish Prison Service to consider the environmental issues that affect people with disability and the use of the prison estate as part of Scotland’s Prison Strategy. A more holistic, multi-disciplinary approach will improve health, social and employment opportunities and will support the reduction of future offending.  

Integrated Health and Social Care services in prisons will not be delivered in exactly that same way across the country; as with community based services, delivery partners need to plan and provide services according to the needs of their populations. The intention of the programme is that services deliver equivalent outcomes to those in the community.

Scottish Ministers will consider the proposals for a model of integrated health and social care provision in prisons in Spring 2020.  

Members of the Health and Social Care Integration in Prisons Workstream include:

  • Scottish Government (Community Justice, Integration and Adult Social Care)
  • Scottish Prison Service
  • Social Work Scotland
  • NHS Boards
  • Integrated Joint Boards
  • Care Inspectorate
  • Scottish Care
  • Coalition of Care Providers in Scotland
  • Scottish Social Services Council


A new vision for social care in prisons: response
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