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Innovative healthcare

Innovative healthcare

Care UK’s unique approach to healthcare provision in the justice system.

Care UK has dedicated healthcare teams working in prisons across the country who are passionate about helping the prison population – a socially excluded group with traditionally very poor outcomes – to develop lasting, positive health and wellbeing.

In a matter of a few years we have grown our health in justice service line to over 40 prisons. Today we provide all forms of care, from primary and nursing care, to sexual health, mental health and substance misuse service, and on any one day we’re responsible for the healthcare of over 30,000 patients.

We work across the offender pathway, from arrest to sentence and release, and we partner with organisations with credibility and presence in that pathway, including a number of mental health trusts.

Care UK’s health in justice services at a glance:

Primary care: We aim to provide at least the equivalent healthcare to what service users would be able to access in the community. In fact, in many cases, the services we deliver are enhanced, to answer the complex needs of the people we work with.

Substance misuse services: Our teams provide a full range of substance misuse services: independent, voluntary and NHS-based.

Mental health services: We also provide primary and secondary mental health services and are particularly proud of our in-depth and successful work with patients who have a variety of mental health needs and personality disorders.

What makes Care UK innovative in this sector?

Making the most of technology

Our offender health services make full use of the latest technology to ensure that service users receive the best care within the shortest timescales, all while ensuring the safety and security of the prison and prisoner. Technology has proved of particular value in supporting service users in more remote prisons, such as HMP Isle of Wight.

Creating a holistic model

In traditional prisons there are three core pathways: primary care, substance misuse and mental health. A patient entering the prison will be referred into one, two or all three of these pathways, however, these strands of care will run alongside each other and be delivered by different teams, with little, if any crossover.

Care UK developed an innovative wellbeing model that moves away from this disease-led model of the past to one based on a holistic approach that draws upon the key elements of a person’s health and wellbeing, namely:

  • Physical health
  • Mental health
  • Substance misuse
  • Relationships
  • Resettlement and re-offending

How does this new model work?

Care planning takes place across all five domains and involves the patient in their own recovery. We look at individual barriers to change – elements like anxiety, poor coping skills and poor social skills – as these can affect many aspects of a person’s life. We deliver an integrated approach to care that enables those in prison to make lasting changes. Central to this new model is a Wellbeing Wheel, a self-assessment tool that we encourage patients to use to score themselves.

Ongoing innovation

National Safer Prescribing Strategy: Many prisoners are on a cocktail of drugs (illicit and prescribed) when they enter prisons. The risk is that these can find their way into the rest of prison. At Care UK we believe we have a duty to safeguard the prisoner’s health and that of the rest of the prison population; we also want to reduce drug dependency. As a result we’re using a range of practical and psychologically informed strategies to reduce drug use in prison. These range from stress management and peer support, to the use of health trainers. Read more about how we’re tackling prescription misuse in a South of England prison: Reducing prescription misuse in prisons.

Peer support programmes: People with ‘lived experience’ are vital for helping those starting out on the journey of recovery. We’ve seen how peer support has been central to reducing reoffending and poor compliance with medicines and are the first organisation to introduce peer support across the three main care pathways. It’s still very unusual to find this approach in primary care and mental health.

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