Corrections Minister Anne Tolley has officially opened a new High Dependency Unit at Rimutaka Prison, the first of its kind in New Zealand.
The new 20-bed unit, which will be operated by Corrections officers and health services staff, will cater for prisoners who can no longer look after themselves and who have high health needs.
It will cater mostly for older men, some of whom have dementia, and for younger prisoners with significant health conditions such as physical disabilities, motor neurone disease or multiple sclerosis.
“Corrections takes its duty of care to prisoners extremely seriously,” says Mrs Tolley.
“This new unit will cater for those who are unable to care for themselves, giving them the level of health care they need, without transporting them outside of the prison.
“We have an ageing prison population - more than 200 are over sixty and fifty offenders are over 70 years old, and still have a number of years to serve.
“Frail prisoners will now have a purpose-built facility providing a safe and secure environment.
“It will also meet the rehabilitation needs of those offenders who are able to be released, and support them in their transition out of prison.”
The new unit is situated in the former youth wing of the prison, which has undergone a $750,000 refurbishment. It will cost $400,000 each year to operate.