I am the equality Advisor for HMP IOW and also manage social care. HMP IOW is comprised of an older prisoner population with approx. 40% 50+ years old. This population demographic raises issues around health and social care needs including diseases such as dementia.
Back in 2019 I contacted Barry Jackman and asked if he would support HMP IOW by providing awareness and understanding of dementia. Barry delivered 2 courses over 6 months which were aimed at supporting our prisoner representatives and ‘Buddies’ (who deliver non-personal contact care to prisoners who are below the IW social care threshold for care packages). Barry inspired the prisoners, and the courses were very successful. Teresa Hope, the manager for Highfield House, a care home in Shanklin, also attended sessions and was able to provide better insight into dementia care which this was really valued.
The impact of COVID halted all activities in the prison, but by 2022 Barry returned to deliver 2 more courses, this time with me as co-deliverer (I had attended the 4-day course delivered by Dr Gemma Jones on delivering dementia awareness). I then invited Barry to meet staff and he held a drop-in session as well as speaking at a full staff meeting at HMP IOW on the subject of Alzheimer Café Isle of Wight and the support they offer to the community.
Barry offered his time and services all for free, and I thought it would be good to give something back so I started off a fundraiser where staff and prisoners were invited to donate money to support Alzheimer Café Isle of Wight. HMP IOW has a Garden department in both sites, and I asked the instructors if we could have a competition to guess the height of the biggest sunflower which would be announced on the World Alzheimer day 21 September. The winning height was just shy of 3 metres 10 cm and £456.75 was raised.
The work that has been done at HMP IOW to improve the understanding of dementia has had a big impact and staff and prisoners are now more able to recognise when someone may be showing signs of having dementia. In turn, this has served in promoting better safeguarding and improved outcomes and care for those with the disease.
When I look back at the journey that was started in 2019 with Barry, I am proud to have been a part of helping our prison community understand, recognise support those with dementia, and to have had the opportunity to work with Alzheimer Café Isle of Wight.
HMP IOW plans to continue the successful partnership with the Alzheimer Café Isle of Wight and looks forward to future engagement.