This is an area in which many older offenders need a lot of support. More than 80% of older offenders have long-standing illnesses or disabilities. Over half suffer from a mental disorder and 30% have a diagnosis of depression. All of the "soft" activities that we provide through group work give a welcome diversion from prison life and ultimately appear to help reduce stress. Some of the soft activities we provide include knitting (which also provides further benefits as an in cell activity), and craft activities such as decoupage, origami and marbling ink wrapping paper.
We offer a great deal of practical help with health issues, such as providing factual information on diet and nutrition, drop-in sessions for general health and well-being, awareness of the risks of alcohol and smoking and helping offenders work towards their own personal targets. We also give Extend sessions, providing gentle exercises to music, and chair based exercise sessions. RECOOP has also arranged gym sessions for the over 50’s in prisons, as many older prisoners feel intimidated by the younger inmates using the gym and are put off using it themselves, and devised relaxation sessions to help reduce mental and physical stress.
Increasingly, older prisoners are keen to take responsibility for their own health and Seniors Forums in prisons have organised health awareness sessions.
We are currently working with the Ramblers to deliver a walking programme in prisons for older offenders. If you are interested in volunteering on the programme please contact us.
Below are some statistics which highlight the need to effectively support this group in accessing appropriate services (Impact Pathways website July 2015):
8% of prisoners suffer from schizophrenia or a delusional disorder, compared with 0.5% of the general population.
45% of prisoners suffer from a neurotic disorder (e.g. depression) compared with 14% of the general population.
More than 70% of the prison population has two or more mental health disorders.
Male prisoners are 14 times more likely to have two or more disorders than men in general, and female prisoners are 35 times more likely than women in general.
The suicide rate in prisons is almost 15 times higher than in the general population: in 2002 the rate was 143 per 100,000 compared to 9 per 100,000 in the general population.
Approx 50% of adult offenders screen positively for childhood ADHD with 19% displaying persistent symptoms.
- Offenders with a diagnosis of ADHD or those who present with symptoms are involved in 8x more aggressive incidents than the general offender population.
Impact Pathways offer practitioners and service users access to organisations who offer help and support with both mental and physical health matters in the Gloucestershire, Avon, Bristol and Somerset areas.
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