Based in the hospital’s inpatient ward, it will see prisoners, who are unable to leave prison or who have elected to stay at HMP Holme House, cared for in their last days.
Care UK’s head of healthcare at the prison Elise Smithson explained: “Sometimes Holme House has been a prisoner’s home for many years and they would prefer to die here rather than move to a hospital or hospice. We have had the medical capability before but never the place to carry out this type of care.”
The new suite contains the same equipment and has the calm and relaxed atmosphere seen in hospices. There is a large wet-room, specialist beds and a lounge area with music and flowers where relatives can visit throughout the day.
Elise said: “We have an ageing prison population that reflects the rest of society and, with improvements in forensic science, we have more people being arrested in old age for historic crimes. As a result, there will be more people dying in prisons and we wanted to ensure they could do it with dignity - both for their sakes and for their relatives.”
Members of the medical team, who have taken on additional training in managing end of life care in prison through Teeside University, have been joined in the development of the suite by prison officers and the prisoners themselves, who chose the name the Pallium Suite.
Elise said: “Everyone has worked hard on the project and I think that reflects how important it is. A number of prison officers have taken on the training so they can understand the process and some the prisoners have taken the course so they can buddy a fellow prisoner through the last stages of his illness.”
HMP Holme House holds 1,210 prisoners, many of who are serving long sentences or are on remand, and it primarily serves the Tees Valley, South West Durham, East Durham and North Yorkshire.
Care UK is the country’s leading independent provider of prison healthcare supporting a total of 21 prisons and other offender institutions to improve health outcomes, reduce waiting times and enable prisoners to manage on-going conditions through health education.