Pioneering work project at Inverness Prison
Prisoners in Inverness are cleaning and repairing equipment for NHS Highland patients in a pioneering project.
In the first partnership of its kind in Scotland, the health authority has teamed up with the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) to deliver dirty healthcare equipment such as Zimmer frames and bathing and toilet aids to the prison for cleaning and processing.
Discussions have now taken place with the SPS about expanding the scheme which was introduced in June and involves NHS Highland’s south and mid area teams.
Mid Ross district manager Chris Arnold said the health authority collected dirty healthcare equipment from patients’ homes and then arranged to deliver it to the prison.
“The prisoners clean them to strict hygiene standards and then the equipment is returned to our stores, where it is either returned to the patient or given to new patients,” said Mr Arnold who was impressed with the standard of cleaning and the process.
“Effectively, there is no cost. NHS Highland provides the prison with the cleaning equipment and materials and the prisoners provide the labour.
“At the moment they are cleaning things like Zimmer frames and bathing and toilet equipment, aids to daily living like bath lifts and shower chairs.
“Doing this represents a time-saving for our NHS store staff and provides meaningful activity for the prisoners.”
It is hoped to further develop the service to include the whole of Highland in the future and increase the type of equipment being cleaned.
“We are thinking of recycling physiotherapy equipment next like crutches and walking sticks,” Mr Arnold said. “They will be repaired if required, and then cleaned. We are also thinking of cleaning bigger equipment, like beds and things like that.
“While there’s not a direct financial saving, the scheme is an exemplar of how we can make better use of partnership working.
“The real benefits here are that prisoners get meaningful work which normally our staff would have to do themselves. What the process does is free up our staff so that they are then able to carry out other critical tasks for our patients.”
Acting prison governor Patrick Griffin said the venture had provided the prisoners with new skills and confidence plus additional meaningful activity.
“Over a short period of time staff and the prisoners working on this scheme have developed a very positive and productive working relationship,” he said.
“The prisoners allocated the work feel they are learning to do something new and are engaged in an activity that is beneficial to the wider community.
“Our excellent relationship with NHS Highland is key to this venture and we are delighted this work will be ongoing with a view to expanding the scheme in the near future.”
In a separate venture, NHS Highland took part in a health and wellbeing event at the prison. Subjects included information and advice on giving up smoking.