Care and support for people with social care needs on release from prison

Sue Tucker In progress  

Introduction

Following the introduction of the Care Act (2014) local authorities are now responsible for identifying, assessing and meeting the social care needs of people in prison, and people released from prison, with a package of care and support.  This legislation was designed to address longstanding concerns about a lack of social care in prisons and to ensure continuity of care when people are released into the community. However, although release from prison is associated with high rates of mortality, homelessness, social isolation, unemployment and debt, most authorities initially focused on people in custody. Little is known about the number of people released from prison with social care needs, the nature of these or how best to meet them. There are also concerns about the release planning process, including insufficient notice of release, gaps in communication, problems establishing which authority is responsible for certain prisoners, and difficulties transferring assessments between authorities.

Objectives

This study will build on NIHR SSCR-funded research on the social care needs of people in custody, and will focus on the social care needs of people on release, including individuals with both high and low level needs. The aim is to provide local authorities with evidence to facilitate the delivery of better social care and support for this client group, enabling them to implement the Care Act reforms in an efficient manner.

Methods

The study has four main strands.

  1. Identify what is known about the social care needs of people released from prison via a review of the social care practice, policy and academic literature
  2. Estimate the number of people with identified social care needs released from prison, and explore the ways they are identified, prepared for release and supported post-release by means of national surveys of prison and local authority staff
  3. Improve understanding of the problems with the release planning process and how to resolve these through interviews with staff and service users at four sites across England
  4. Highlight practice implications of the findings by means of two validation workshops.