#COT2017 S72: RCOT Insights – Working in prisons-how occupational therapy can have the biggest impact

This session was used for people to give feedback and ideas about a new document, which is due out in September about Occupational Therapy in prisons. This is as part of the RCOTs campaign ‘improving lives, saving money’.

The session was used to show some of the draft copies of the document and Karin Roman, Professional Practice Manager RCOT, gave a brief overview of the point of the report and the recommendations included in it, as well as the rationale behind the recommendations.

It is due to be a short document that currently has 2 recommendations on it so far. Karin spoke about the importance of speaking the language of the commissioners and writing in the language of commissioners, which is partly why the document is being kept short – to help us get a foot in the door, which we can then use to explain our role in prisons further.

We can have a diverse role in prisons. One recommendation which I found really interesting was the suggestion that we, as occupational therapists, could be involved right from the beginning, in the design of current and future prison estates, to help minimise potential environmental risk. This appealed to me as a new and innovative idea and an emerging area in occupational therapy practice.

Karin then passed over to Lisa Jamieson, an occupational therapist working currently in a prison. Lisa then spoke about her work life in HMS Grampian. There are 15 prisons in Scotland and only 2 occupational therapists currently working in them, so it is still a very new and emerging service for Scotland.

Lisa argued that she is not a mental health occupational therapist, as she was employed to be, but is in fact a ‘prison occupational therapist’ whereby, in a non-traditional setting, she is able to use her full scope of core therapist skills.

Lisa takes an occupational approach in engaging her service users, which allows her to access the co-morbidities that other health services have been unable to unearth. She currently uses MOHO as her model of practice, and some of the assessments spanning from this. Lisa spoke about how she feels proud that she is delivering a service which is so valued that often she is being used in a consultant role, to give her ideas and advice about other services. She also revealed her figures over the year. Attendance to her service is around 88% and she spoke about how 100% of service users felt that the occupational therapy service was excellent or very good. Lisa also shared a quote which was said about her service, which I think we could use in all aspects of occupational therapy: “Occupational therapy is so far outside the box, you can’t even see the box, and that works here”.

After Lisa had shared her insights, there was a small time for discussion. Karin asked if there was anybody in the room currently working in the prison setting, and although there was a small contingent, the majority of the people in the room were like me, completely new to this area. We therefore discussed if we felt the recommendations made sense and would be clear enough for others who are not working in the field.

Overall, it was another fantastic and informative session and I am looking forward to the new document being released in September, showing the value of OT in prison settings.

Written by Katie Gabriel

2 thoughts on “#COT2017 S72: RCOT Insights – Working in prisons-how occupational therapy can have the biggest impact”

  1. Hello,
    I am currently writing on a report on the emerging role of occupational therapy in the prison setting for one my 3rd year assignments.
    I was just inquiring how I can find the document mentioned in the first paragraph on ‘occupational therapy in prisons’ set to be released this September?
    I have found this very helpful and insightful in guiding my thinking for my report.


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