Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA May-Jun 2014 Contents RISKY
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Wintringham has offered to
partner with Justice Health Victoria
to develop a prison aged care
facility, and in June 2013 Ararat
Rural City Council in south-west
Victoria also put a similar proposal
to government to establish a
secure facility in their rural town.
However, the idea, which
would be a first for Australia, is
yet to win the backing of the State
In February, the Victorian
Minister for Corrections,
Edward O'Donohue said there
was not sufficient demand for
a purpose-built facility and that
the needs of elderly inmates
were currently being met through
OF AGED CARE
Mr Goulding said an aged care
model introduced into the prison
system would deliver a more age-
appropriate service at a much
cheaper cost to government. He
said financial estimates showed
it was almost eight times more
expensive to run an acute care
bed compared to a high care
aged care bed. A prison nursing
home would also have reduced
security costs compared to other
prison facilities, he said.
"Not only is a reliance on
prison hospital beds for elderly
prisoners a costly approach to
aged care, acute care hospitals
do not have the specialist aged
care knowledge that the aged
care industry has developed over
many years," said Mr Goulding.
To work efficiently, he said
the prison aged care facility
would need to have linkages
to the local prison hospital and
to an aged care facility on the
outside to continue to provide
care to prisoners once they were
released into the community.
Mr Goulding, who last year
published a report on best practice
models for elderly prisoners based
on an international study tour, said
he believed there was a high level
of unmet aged care need within
the Victorian prison population.
He said older prisoners were
often reluctant to ask for help
and correctional staff were not
trained to identify the care needs
of older prisoners.
When pressed about their own
ability to care for themselves, Mr
Goulding said older prisoners
often indicated that they received
some form of informal personal
hygiene assistance from the
Mr Goulding said in coming
decades as a critical mass of
Leading the way
WITH ITS SPECIALISED units and multi-disciplinary approach, the
NSW prison system is recognised as having the most developed
prison health services for older prisoners in the country.
Chief executive of the Justice Health & Forensic Mental Health
Network Julie Babineau said the specialty network provided
healthcare to an incredibly vulnerable patient population, with
many prisoners engaging with health services for the first time
while in custody.
"The health status of custodial patients is marked by higher
levels of chronic disease, drug and alcohol issues, mental illness
and cognitive impairment," she told AAA.
Services for older prisoners include a supported living unit,
the Kevin Waller Unit, for aged and vulnerable prisoners, as well
as the Aged Care Rehab Unit at Long Bay Hospital for older
prisoners with high care needs. Approximately 25 per cent of
patients currently in the speciality aged care unit at Long Bay
Hospital were receiving dementia-related care, said Ms Babineau.
The multi-disciplinary care team at the unit included specialist
aged care nurses, geriatricians, psychiatrists, and allied health
professionals. The unit also utilised dog therapy and through a
recent collaboration with Calvary Healthcare, ageing prisoners
have access to occupational therapy at Long Bay Hospital and
the Kevin Waller Unit.
Ms Babineau said the network had developed an aged care
pathway to support prisoners as they age and future research
would focus on the development and evaluation of an aged care
health service model.
older prisoners developed inside
the prison system it would be
difficult for governments to ignore
this complex issue. n
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