Hello! I'm John

Working to prevent loneliness and isolation in our communities & prisons.

Addressing the Challenges of Dementia in Prisons

Today, March 27th. 2019, I have been in London at the conference ‘Addressing the challenges of Dementia in Prisons’, organized by The Alzheimer’s Society.

This topic is very relevant to the work I am developing within the prison estate, in relation to loneliness and social isolation, as the two challenges often accompany each other. Prisons are very lonely places, and if the prisoner is older, perhaps taken as over 50 in this instance, has been rejected by his family due to the nature of the crime, has mental problems, has misused drugs and/or alcohol and tobacco products during their lifetime, then he presents to the system as a person who needs a high level of care.

Taking this situation as very real, and understanding the limitations of dealing with the person given the funding constraints, the need for highly trained specialist staff, and the potential for the extended length of time the prisoner may stay in the system, it is easy to see the full extent of the challenge.

Prisons have no way of ignoring the challenge because the prisoner is in their carte, and entitled to the same support as anybody with a similar condition. The challenge has therefore become, how best to approach the challenge. This conference today bought together many people who have an interest in finding the solution, or who are already introducing “good practice” into this environment.

As for me, I attended for two reasons:

  1. To better understand the challenge.
  2. To discuss with others there how my offering can be of any help.

Over the course of the conference I was able to fulfil both parts, and therefore would judge the time spent here as very well spent.

The conference was very well organized, four excellent speakers, Chaired by Adam Moll in a very professional manner, and introducing to me a number of people who, in the future can help me, as I can them, I think.


Case Studies

We were asked to read two case studies, un-named men but taken from a real situation in an actual prison. In both cases, it seemed to me, if the man had not committed a crime, he would be living in the community either in a Care Home or a Hospice. The fact that he had been found guilty, and given a long sentence means that he must be punished. However, once Dementia becomes part of his life, the challenge is how to give a reasonable level of care within the prison estate, and there are many considerations, and possible outcomes.

For me, the bottom line is that we must treat each individual with dignity and respect. The challenge is that the number of people falling into this group is growing each year.

  • In December 2017 the total prison population over 50 was 13,522
  • In December 2011 the total prison population over 50 was 9,296

This represents an over 45% increase in numbers in 6 years, somewhat startling to me!

We also learned that because of drug, alcohol, tobacco misuse by the prisoner, it is estimated that their physiological age is ten years in advance of their chronological age.

To sum up, this challenge is huge, but unless it is addressed then it can only grow and get worse.

I do not pretend to have any answers, I am far to new to this sector to fully understand what is required. Furthermore, I am only one man with ideas, albeit that my simple offering appears to help a lot.

My hope is that my offering does help, that more prisons take advantage of this really low cost intervention, and that this provides some help to all those concerned, prisoners and managers alike.


Many thanks for reading this, I am

John the story teller fellah | 07510 515103