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Support for prisoners

Current available information suggests that there are about 10,400 prisoners in Britain aged over 50, and that about 3,500 of these are aged over 60. As with older people in the community these prisoners will be at greater risk of developing health problems related to older age, which in turn may mean that they need some support with certain vital tasks in their day-to-day lives such as walking, and washing and dressing themselves.

In addition many people in prison experience physical health problems, mental health problems, or problems with drugs or alcohol, or have a learning disability, and may therefore also have a need for care and support.



A council is responsible for assessing and meeting the care and support needs of people in any prisons located in their area. 

After the assessment, the council will determine whether a person is eligible for care and support using the same eligibility criteria used for people living in the community. If the person is assessed as having needs which meet those criteria, the council will be required to meet those needs.

You can find out more about how this works on our Requesting An Assessment page, but please be aware that, as below, prisoners do not have all of the same rights as people living in the community.

Prisoners will enjoy most of the rights and responsibilities of people living in the rest of the community but with four notable exceptions:

  • Prisoners cannot receive direct payments and will have much less choice over how their eligible care needs are met
  • A council's Adult Social Care department will not be responsible for investigating safeguarding incidents in prisons. These are incidents where prisoners who are vulnerable because of, for example, a health problem or disability, are subject to abuse or neglect by other people. The prison staff will be responsible for ensuring the safety of such prisoners.
  • Prisoners will not be able to express a preference for particular accommodation except when this is being arranged for after their release
  • Councils will not have to protect the property of adults in prison or approved premises who have care and support needs

Like people living in the community prisoners will be asked to complete a financial assessment to decide if they are able to pay towards the cost of their care and support. Prisoners are subject to the same rules as people living in their own homes - you can find out more on our Paying Towards Council Support At Home page.

If you are receiving care and support, the Care Act states that you should receive continuity of care if you move to another prison. This means that, from the day you arrive at the new prison, you should continue to receive any care and support you need. This support will be arranged by the council covering the area where the new prison is based, but the previous council will help to ensure that they have all the information needed to arrange the care.

The law covering this is the same for people in prison as for people living in the community who move home - you can find out more on our page What Happens To My Care When I Move Home?

If you choose to stay in the area where the prison is based then the council covering that area will still be responsible for arranging care and support for you following your release, and may carry out a further assessment of your needs to ensure that you are receiving the right support in your new surroundings.

If you move to a new area then the council covering that area will be responsible for arranging your support. The law on this is the same for people who move areas out in the community - you can find out more on our page What Happens To My Care When I Move Home?

You may also find it useful to look at our Support For Offenders page for information on the support available to help any person to settle back into the community after discharge from prison.

The council covering the area where a prison is based is responsible for assessing and meeting any care and support needs of prisoners residing within that prison.

The only prison in the areas covered by People First is Wormwood Scrubs which is in Hammersmith and Fulham.

The process for arranging support for people with mental health problems, learning disabilities or substance misuse problems starts within the prison - prison staff will then contact the specialist health and social care teams in the community for further support as required.

To request an assessment of other prisoners in Wormwood Scrubs (for example older prisoners, or prisoners with physical disabilities) you should contact the council's H&F Advice team as follows:

Tel: 020 8753 4198
Fax: 020 8753 5880
Email: h&

Hammersmith and Fulham have produced a leaflet with more information on care and support for prisoners.