Karen is reaching the end of her custodial sentence and is due to be released from prison soon. One of the reasons she was given a custodial sentence was to ensure that a mental health assessment was carried out whilst she was in prison as this has been impossible in the past due to Karen’s chaotic lifestyle. So far, she has been seen by a mental health nurse after one of her many suicide attempts but has not been referred to a psychiatrist. Because her release date is imminent the prison has decided it will be up to her GP to refer her to a psychiatrist upon her release. My worry is that Karen will not be able to engage with any mental health services once she is released as she will find it difficult to abstain from alcohol long enough for an assessment to be carried out. Unless Karen is assessed upon the day of her release I don’t think it will happen.
She has been referred to Social Services as she is a vulnerable adult but the referral has been refused as apparently she isn’t vulnerable enough. One of the many challenges that Karen faces upon her release from custody is that she has such complex needs she will require support from a number of different agencies and co-ordinating this care can be challenging. Some of the services that have worked with Karen in the past are reluctant to work with her due to her challenging behaviour. This is frustrating as not only does it limit the support available to Karen but it also reaffirms the negative views that she has about services and herself; that people won’t give her another chance because they don’t really care what happens to her so why should she care.
Currently, I’m working very closely with a couple of agencies to try and get Karen some suitable accommodation upon her release from custody, we’ve exhausted a lot of avenues as she is classed as “unsuitable” but we’ve got a few days left and will keep trying until we find somewhere. My fear is that Karen will go off the radar if she doesn’t have accommodation, and we will have missed the opportunity to help support her release from custody as a fresh start for her. If we can provide her with suitable accommodation and she has a chance of some stability then it will be easier for her to try to engage with the other services (such as alcohol services, mental health support and her GP) that are an essential part of her support package. If we are unable to find somewhere suitable then, potentially, there will be an extremely vulnerable female sleeping rough upon her release from prison. This clearly brings with it a host of problems and we will do whatever we can to prevent this happening.