Social care support in prisons
Dorset Council is responsible for providing social care for adults in prisons, approved premises, and bail accommodation in Dorset. This includes:
- short-term help to get you back on your feet after an illness
- longer-term help - for example, someone to assist you regularly with daily living
- aids and equipment to make daily tasks easier and safer
- support and social contact, for example, access to support groups or activities (as appropriate, within the prison).
Outline of the care and support pathway
The care and support pathway is centered around a conversation with you to identify what your strengths are and what things you need support to achieve.
If you are new to the prison, the Prison Reception Service will talk to you about your health and care needs. If you are already in prison and then you develop new health or care needs, the prison staff will discuss them with you.
If you, or NHS staff, or prison staff, find that you require a social care assessment, the prison staff will contact Dorset Council to arrange it.
A Dorset Council person will assess your care needs and see whether you meet the national eligibility criteria for social care. If you do, we will work out a support plan with you and we will arrange the services.
We will also arrange to complete a financial assessment to see whether you will be required to pay towards your care.
Assessing what you need support to achieve
An assessment is based on a conversation with a social care worker. It helps us to understand things from your point of view and gives you the chance to tell us about your strengths and the difficulties you may be having, and what help you think you need. 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
We will talk to you about your needs and assess if you meet the eligibility criteria for our services. If you do, we will agree with you on how much support you need and for how long. Support can include things like:
- help with general tasks such as washing, dressing, and eating
- equipment that may help you (however, before we can issue any equipment the prison will carry out a risk assessment to see if they agree to the equipment)
If you do not meet the eligibility criteria for services, we will give you information and advice about what you can do to build on your existing strengths.
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. The plan will say whether you need equipment, or someone to help you, (or both) and how long you will need it for.
We will also look at the support that is available to you in the prison. For example, support groups increased access to services - such as the gym, the library, and classes or training. These things will be subject to availability within the prison and the prison’s rules.
Your support plan will not include:
- 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.
Reviews of your support plan
Even if everything seems to be going well, your social care worker will periodically check to make sure that your support plan 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 know what has been going well and what hasn’t worked. You will also have to agree whether you will make any changes. If your needs change between reviews, ask the health or prison staff to contact your social care worker for you.
Paying for your care and support
Most people are expected to pay something towards the cost of their care. A person from Dorset Council (called a Financial Assessment Officer) will talk to you about your financial circumstances and find out how much you can afford to contribute. This is called a financial assessment. We will arrange to complete the 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. We do not count any prison allowances you may receive, but if you get to rent for a property you own we would count that.
- any savings you may have and the property you own. This called ‘capital’.
The Financial Assessment Officer will work out the maximum amount you can afford to pay per week towards your care. This is called your financial contribution. Some people cannot afford to pay any 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.
Advocacy is a way to support people who may have difficulty telling others what they want. If you have problems expressing your views and concerns about your care and support, or if you struggle to understand the information we give you during your assessment or review, then you may want someone to help you with this.
If you do not have a friend or family member who is an appropriate person to assist you, we can arrange for an independent advocate.
An independent advocate gets to know your views and wishes and gives you support to tell others what these are. The 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.
Moving to another prison or leaving prison
If you move to another prison, your support plan will move with you. We will speak to people at the council who covers your new prison and, if you agree, we will give them a copy of your support plan. It is likely that the new council will check whether your needs have changed since the support plan was drawn up.
If you leave prison and continue to live in Dorset, then a local social work team will work with you to maximise your strengths and make sure your needs continue to be met.
If you leave prison to live outside Dorset, we will talk to social care staff from the council where you live and, if you agree, we will give them a copy of your support plan.
When you leave prison the Council will seek consent if there is a need to share your information. For example, with The Parole Board, The Probation Service, or housing providers.
How do I make comments or complain about Dorset Council?
Dorset Council is committed to providing quality services to you, your carers and family. We welcome any comments as this helps us understand what parts of our service people like.
If you are unhappy about the service you have received and want to make a complaint, please speak to a social care worker or contact Dorset Council and ask for a copy of our complaints leaflet.
You can write to us at:
Business Reply Licence number
Dorset Council, Colliton Park,
Dorchester, Dorset, DT1 1XJ.
Or by telephone on 01305 221061
If you don’t want to talk directly to us, you can contact Healthwatch Dorset, an independent organisation that represents the views and wishes of people who use adult social care services in Dorset.
Dorset Council is committed to making its information and services accessible to all. If you would like any information in an alternative format please contact us:
You can find further information about adult social care and support services provided by Dorset Council at: