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Care and support for people in a custodial setting

Assessing your needs

Rights to an assessment

Prisoners have the same rights and responsibilities as people living in the community but with four exceptions:

  • prisoners cannot receive direct payments and choices about how their eligible care needs are met will be more constrained
  • adult social care departments will not be responsible for investigating safeguarding incidents in prisons
  • prisoners will not be able to express a preference for particular accommodation except when this is being arranged for after their release
  • local authorities will not have to protect the property of adults in prison or approved premises with care and support needs

Assessing your needs

Health or prison staff will undertake a short assessment with you. This is a screening tool and will help to identify if you have any social care needs. If they decide that you do have social care needs, they will contact us.

So that we can look at the kind of support you need we will undertake a supported assessment. A social care worker will meet with you to do this. The assessment helps us to understand things from your point of view and gives you the chance to tell us about any difficulties you may be having, and what help you think you need.

To find out more about you, we will ask you about:

  • how you look after yourself
  • what you have difficulty doing
  • your physical and emotional health
  • the kind of support you have now and what help you need.

Eligibility for council services

We will talk to you about your needs and identify if you meet the national criteria for eligibility which is based on identifying:

  • whether your needs are due to a physical or mental impairment or illness
  • to what extent your needs affect your ability to achieve two or more specified outcomes listed within the Care Act
  • whether this impacts significantly on your overall wellbeing

However, the final decision about who is eligible sits with Dorset Council and you must also meet the following criteria:

  • be aged 18 or over
  • be detained in prison or reside in an approved premises, such as a bail hostel, and/or
  • have moved from your usual residence as a condition of your bail in a criminal proceeding

What happens next

If you meet the criteria, we will agree with you how much support you need and for how long. This could include:

  • help with general tasks such as washing, dressing and feeding
  • equipment that may help you (however, before we can issue any equipment the prison will need to undertake a risk assessment and agree for you to have this)

We will also talk to you about how much this support may cost.

If you don’t meet the eligibility criteria we may be able to offer information and advice about what you can do to improve any problems or signpost you to other support.

How to contact us

If you would like someone from the council to see if you need some support:

  • if you are in prison, speak to your wing nurse
  • if you are in Approved Premises, speak to your probation staff
  • if you are in bail accommodation, contact the Adult Access Team

Adult social care

Rights to independent advocacy

Advocacy is a way to support people who may not be able to tell others what they want.

If you have problems expressing your views and concerns about your care and support needs, you may want someone to help you do this.

If you need some support, you should let the prison or health staff member know this as soon as possible. We will then arrange an independent advocate for you.

An independent advocate will help you to:

  • express your views and concerns
  • access information and services
  • explore choices and options
  • defend and promote your rights and responsibilities

They speak for you without judging you or giving you their views and opinions.

Paying for your support

Most people are expected to pay something towards the cost of their care. One of our staff (called a Financial Assessment Officer) will talk to you about your financial circumstances to decide how much you will need to pay. This is called a financial assessment.

We will arrange to complete a financial assessment by either speaking to you over the telephone or by visiting you. We will ask you about:

  • any money you receive that could be considered as income, for example if you get rent for a property you own (we don't count any prison allowances you may get)
  • any savings you may have and property you own, this is called 'capital'

The assessment officer will work out the maximum amount you may need to pay per week towards your care. This is called your financial contribution.

We will also ask you to nominate someone who may have access to your finances and documents to assist us - this could be a family member or friend.

Arranging and reviewing your care and support

Arranging your care and support

Your social care worker will help you to prepare a support plan which will detail the care and support you need. It will include any support that will be provided, for example, equipment, or someone to help you, and how long it will be for.

We will also look at support that is available to you in the prison, for example, peer support or support groups, increased access to services, such as the gym, library, classes or training opportunities. This will be subject to availability within the prison and the need to meet any criteria the prison may have.

The support that will not be included is:

  • anything that is normally provided through the Health Service, this could include specific equipment
  • anything that is illegal or would not promote your wellbeing
  • access to services outside of the prison

Reviewing your care and support

Even if everything is going well, your social care worker will check to make sure that your support is working for you. This is called a review.

A review is about:

  • checking if your needs or circumstances have changed
  • checking if your support plan is achieving what was agreed and if not, what needs to be done
  • making sure you are healthy and safe
  • making sure your reviews are happening often enough

After your review, you and your social care worker will have a good idea about what has been going well and what hasn't worked. You will also have agreed whether or not you want to make any changes and if so, start making these changes so that your support plan works the way you want it to.

If your needs change between reviews, ask the health or prison staff to contact your social care worker for you

Moving to another prison or leaving prison

Moving to another prison

If you move to another prison, your support plan will go with you.

We will talk with staff from the council where your new prison is and, with your permission, give them your support plan. They will meet with you and check whether your needs have changed.

Leaving prison

When you leave prison, your support plan will go with you.

If you live in Dorset we will transfer you to the local team linked to where you live to ensure your needs continue to be met on release. The local team will review you shortly afterwards in case your needs change.

If you live outside of Dorset we will talk or meet with staff from that council and, with your permission, give them your support plan. They will also meet with you to talk about what you need and see what else they can help with.

How to complain

This section explains what you should do if you're not happy with the service you get from us.

  • Talk to a prison officer about your concerns. If they think the complaint is a prison or health issue, they will follow the procedure for dealing with this in the prison
  • You may just need to talk through any problem with your social care worker. If you do the prison or health staff will get in touch with them for you
  • If you want to make a complaint about us, you will need to do this in writing. If you need help to do this tell the prison staff. You will need to explain in your letter what the problem is and what you want to happen

The complaint will be sent to our complaints manager by the prison staff.

When you make a formal complaint we will write back to you to confirm that we have received your complaint.

There are a number of ways of managing your complaint and we may contact you to agree how we will proceed; for example:

  • we may arrange to meet with you to make sure we really listen and understand the issues
  • we may make a plan of how we will deal with your complaint, including any outcome you are seeking
  • we may arrange for a formal investigation to take place
  • we will keep you informed of how your complaint is progressing and you will receive the final response in writing

Support for families of people in prison

Gov UK - Staying in touch with someone in prison by telephone, letter or visiting. This website also has details of banned items that you must not send or give to a prisoner.

Prison Advice and Care Trust is a national charity which provides practical and emotional support to prisoners' children and families.

Prisoners’ Families Helpline 0808 808 2003 Prison Advice Service (Pact) runs the national Prisoners’ Families Helpline, a free and confidential service which offers practical and emotional support, information and advice to anyone who is affected by imprisonment, in a straightforward, non-judgmental way.

POPS - Partners of Prisoners and Families' Support Group offers a variety of services to support anyone who has a link with someone in prison.

Prison Chat UK is an online community giving support to those who have a loved one inside the British prison system. The forum is monitored by administrators to ensure a secure and safe environment for everyone, including children.

Places where social care is provided in prisons in Dorset

HMP Guys Marsh, Shaftesbury, Dorset

HMP Portland Prison and Young Offenders Institution

HMP Verne, Portland