Dick was reared in an institution. He has spent a total of 20 years in prison – two terms: the first for five years, the second for fifteen years. He is now a pensioner. He has no family and no roots.
On release, which was arranged by the Governor after a lot of effort, a bed was found with our help – a hostel. A prison officer visited him weekly – took him out to lunch and maintained this essential link. “The saddest day of my life,” he said when we met him, “the day they let me out. Prison was my home.”
The old age pension had been applied for prior to his release, and informal contact with a community welfare officer was started.
He was complaining of pain constantly and said he was on sleeping tablets and antacids in prison. We arranged a GP to see him and a medical card. Shortly after his release, he was admitted to hospital and had major heart surgery. A now-retired Probation Officer on hearing of this started to visit him regularly.
Dick cannot read or write, which has caused major difficulties for him and all who are concerned about his welfare. We helped to ensure his literacy problem was dealt with sensitively with the doctors and nurses, however, the difficulties it caused cannot be underestimated.
Dick cannot read labels on medication, hospital letters, hospital directions, and as we all know hospitals now can be like airports. He cannot read the numerous letters he receives as all Old Age Pensioners do, and indeed, they too cause considerable stress
He has settled, but prison in his mind continues to be his home – that is until some well-meaning settlement worker decides to move him. Being so institutionalised, it is likely he would move on without question.