‘Living (and dying) as an older person in prison’ – report by the Nuffield Trust

25 May, 2023

New research by The Nuffield Trust finds the number of older people in prison in England and Wales is increasing, but prisons are not well set up to meet the healthcare needs associated with ageing.

The Nuffield Trust has published a new report funded by The Health Foundation, that concludes an older person in prison is more likely to be in poorer health and disproportionately affected by difficult prison conditions.

This report used hospital data to look at the healthcare needs of older people in prison. It is the second in a 3-part series exploring access to healthcare services by prisoners (the first was on women in Prison in 2022 and one on the younger prisoner population will follow in late 2023).

The report finds significant healthcare needs associated with frailty among the older prisoner population and explores the implications for the prison service of managing increasing numbers of older people as the population continues to age.

Key findings included that:

  • A much higher proportion of older people in prison are frail than in the general population, and that prisoners who were frail were more likely to suffer from mobility problems, anxiety and depression, incontinence and dementia
  • With an ageing prisoner population, prison staff are having to manage death, dying and ill-health associated with old age as a part of their job role, adding to an already complex staffing picture
  • Older people in prison face possible health risks associated with high blood pressure
  • The number of older women in prison is relatively small, but they were found to have significant health care needs associated with depression

You can find the full details of the report on the Nuffield Trust website.

The Nuffield Trust has also recent released a report exploring ‘Deaths at home during the Covid-19 pandemic and implications for patients and services’