31st May – 3rd June. Hosted by the Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network (NSW), the Custodial Health Conference 2018 will bring together an international program of speakers and presentations from the niche field of health care in custodial health and forensic mental health settings.

Abstracts close on the 9th of April.

The conference comprises a four-day program, covering a variety of topics underpinned by core themes of innovation and future direction and advances in patient care. According to the organisers the conference ‘represents an opportunity to learn, share and be inspired by the unique work of expert healthcare professionals operating in forensic and custodial environments’.

Palliative care in NSW prisons was highlighted last year with the release of the Coroner’s report (NSW Coroners Court 31st March 2017) into the circumstances of the death of Keith Howlett in the Junee Correctional Centre in 2013. In relation to Keith Howlett’s death the Coroner noted:

What is established (by the Coronial investigation) is that the opportunity to properly assess some of his pressing needs was missed by those responsible for his care. This caused great discomfort and pain for Mr Howlett and his wife in what turned out to be the last days of his life.

In her report on Managing the health of an ageing prison population (Baidawi, 2015) author Susan Baidawi from Monash University noted in relation to Palliative care and end-of-life issues and potential service frameworks for prisons:

International research on EOL and palliative care in prison settings is still emerging and largely absent in Australia. The available studies are primarily conceptual and theoretical, including program descriptions and suggested care guidelines.

There is little evidence of program evaluation to date, and the most effective means of providing EOL and palliative care in the correctional system remains unclear.

More specific data regarding the cause of death among older prisoners as well as comparisons of disease profiles and treatment received between prisons and the general community in Australia would be helpful.

Additionally, analysis of EOL and palliative care programs in Australian correctional institutions (including advantages and disadvantages of current strategies and the availability and uptake of compassionate release programs) could assist in guiding future policy and program development.

References:

NSW Coroners Court. Inquest into the death of Keith HOWLETT​, Decision of Deputy State Coroner Grahame on 31 March 2017 www.coroners.justice.nsw.gov.au

Baidawi, S. Managing the health of an ageing prison population – a review of the challenges to be addressed by effective models of care: an Evidence Check rapid review brokered by the Sax Institute (www.saxinstitute.org.au) for the Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network, January 2015.