Challenges in Corrections Nursing

Subject: Health Care
Type: Informative Essay
Pages: 5
Word count: 1031
Topics: Nursing, Work Ethic, Work Experience

Nurses play a significant role in the provision of healthcare services in the correctional facilities. In recent years, correctional nursing has presented various challenges such as shortage of the staff, inadequate funds for the provision of healthcare amenities, and insufficient support from the federal government. Thus, this paper discusses the various glitches that are faced by correctional nurses and how it is crucial to the overall provision of the healthcare services to the Canadians. 

The Environment as a Challenge

Prison is a unique surrounding to work in; it is a world of its own that provides various challenges for caregivers. Given the nature of the environment and the scope of work, nurses in the prisons should be able to shift from working as an emergency health care provider to a psychiatrist or even a community nurse, a therapist, friend, caretaker, and even as a family. Therefore, most of them are overworked. The correctional facility also presents ethical challenges in that the dignity and the confidentiality of the patients cannot be maintained because they are treated in the presence of non-health personnel (Perron & Holmes, 2011). Some of the inmates are also verbally abusive. Thus, the nurses find it hard to sustain a therapeutic relationship with the patients. The environment that correctional nurses work in has also made it hard for them to obtain training and ongoing education required to provide evidence-informed care. Thus, most of them lack the expertise to utilize evidence-informed care (Almost et al., 2013). 

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Shortage of Nurses

Inadequate staffing in correctional facilities has contributed to poor health care services. According to Almost et al., (2013), the majority of the prisons have few nurses who work with less than a full complement of staff. In most cases, the nurses cannot replace sick calls, they have no time for lunch breaks, and they even cannot get their work done by the end of their shift given that they have a massive workload. Research indicates that one nurse is responsible for attending to over 300 inmates. 

Sustaining and Access to Funds

Another challenge experienced by correctional nurses is funding. According to Kearsey (2016), correctional nurses cite that it is difficult to obtain finances for equipment purchase. Most of the prisons lack computerized medication administration systems, enough supplies, and blood pressure cuffs, which is essential in enhancing the provision of healthcare in prisons. More so, insufficient educational funding to support nurses to improve their knowledge and professional skills is also a challenge. As of now, only one institution, the Nursing Education Initiative (NEI) provides funding for correctional nurses (Almost et al., 2010).  

The Provincial and Federal Government’s Role in the Provision of Health Care in Correctional facilities

For some years now, discussions have been made circling the role of the federal government in the healthcare sector. The government asserts that it is among the largest providers of healthcare services in the nation. Health care is part of the federal government’s responsibilities. Therefore, the government is known to be a promoter and a partial funder of health care across Canada. The federal government affirms that it is its responsibility to fund and monitor health care services offered to the Canadian forces, first nations and Inuit, veterans, the royal mounted police, and inmates in federal correctional facilities. For instance, Doris Grinspun, the RNAO’s Executive Director argues that the government’s promise to introduce control measures on the cost of generic drugs and expansion of the healthcare services is long overdue as she addressed the legislative committee in 2014. In another instance, she urged Ontario to incorporate the federal government and other provinces in developing a national pharmacare program (RNAO, 27). 

The federal government must ensure that healthcare laws are not violated irrespective of the status of the patient. Therefore, it is upon the federal government to follow up any reported misconduct that is aligned with health care services. As stated earlier, inmates are Canadians, and they should enjoy all the benefits that any citizen has. The legislature has put in place the laws that govern the monitoring of health care services offered across the country including the correctional facilities (RNAO, 6).

The Importance of Addressing Challenges in Corrections Nursing

Nurses are the primary caregivers in correctional facilities. Therefore, they need reliable knowledge in handling inmates. Inmates have complex health needs, impulsive behavior, and manipulation. Thus, the nurses should be equipped with knowledge that entails clinical assessment and quick decision-making. They should be aware of their responsibilities which include outpatient care, psychiatric-mental health, emergency nursing, community health, and occupational health (Almost et al., 2013, 1). The correctional facility’s environment is known to be hostile, so the nurses should be provided with security. Advancement in technology and the decreasing resources has led to an influx of crime. Therefore, the number of inmates is increasing on a daily basis. The healthcare providers are in need of more nurses to help with the increasing number of patients (Almost et al., 2010). According to the Canada Health Act, the federal government must offer health care services and funding to the healthcare sector. In the act, inmates and people with mental issues are given the priority (Public Services Foundation of Canada, 53). 

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  1. Almost, J., Doran, D., Linda, O., & Miller, C. et al. (2013). Exploring Work-Life Issues in Provincial Corrections Settings. Journal of Forensic Nursing.
  2. Almost, J., Doran, D., Linda, O., & Miller, C. et al. (2010). Ontario Correctional Nurses
  3. Interest Group Newsletter.
  4. Almost, J., Doran, D., Linda, O., & Miller, C. et al. (2010). Exploring Work Life Issues in Provincial Correctional Settings. Bloomberg: University of Toronto.
  5. Almost, J., Wendy, A., Doran, D., & Linda, al. (2013). Correctional nursing: a study protocol to develop an educational intervention to optimize nursing practice in a unique context. Implementation Science 8:71.
  6. Kearsey, K. (2016). Better Health Behind Bars: RNs Advocate for a Forgotten Population. Registered Nurse Journal 28:3.
  7. Perron, A. & Holmes, D. (2011). Constructing Mentally Ill Inmates: Nurses’ Discursive Practices in Corrections. Nursing Inquiry 18(3): 191-204
  8. Public Services Foundation of Canada (April 2015). Crisis in Correctional Services: Overcrowding and Inmates with Mental Health Problems in Provincial Correctional Facilities
  9. RNAO (2010). When Patients are Prisoners. Registered Nurse Journal, 22:3. 
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