Vision and Hearing Screening Really Does Make a Difference: HMP YOI Cookham Wood Case Study
This is an uplifting, true story of hearing screening and vision screening. It’s about how a young man turned his life around, from being a young offender to a model citizen. And it’s thanks in part to his hearing and vision problems being spotted by a diligent healthcare team, using SchoolScreener.
Vision and Hearing Screening Part of Health Check on Arrival
All new entrants to custodial care in the UK receive a health check, whether they’re Young Offender Institutes (YOIs) or adult prisons. HMP YOI Cookham Wood is no exception. Healthcare services at Cookham Wood are provided by Oxleas NHS Trust.
In 2016, they implemented a suite of products from SchoolScreener to help them deliver part of their programme more efficiently. They conduct vision screening (SchoolScreener Vision), hearing screening (SchoolScreener Hearing) and they monitor growth (SchoolScreener Height + Weight).
Typically, if any screening tests indicate that further attention is required, staff re-test the young offenders after about a month. Often, new entrants are nervous of their surroundings in the first few days. Some take longer than others to settle in and this can impact upon results. If fails are repeated, the young offenders are referred on for specialist professional help.
Back in 2016, in the early days of using SchoolScreener, processes to screen all new entrants were not fully embedded, as they are nowadays. Florence Shangobiyi, a Clinical ST&R Worker from Oxleas Healthcare at Cookham Wood noticed that not everyone had been screened.
‘By comparing the list of everyone screened on SchoolScreener with our official Alpha list, I could identify which new entrants had yet to be screened. I didn’t want anyone to be missed.’
Of the small number of those needing screening was one young man in particular. A troublemaker, Florence describes him as someone who, ‘… fought a lot, was aggressive, abusive and would not comply with the rules of the facility.’ This young man would cause trouble with staff and other young offenders alike.
When screened he failed his vision and hearing checks and was underweight. They waited a month before re-testing. They observed the same results, so referred him to the site doctor, who in turn referred him to outside professional help. An audiologist found that he did indeed have significant hearing issues. He was also prescribed glasses to improve his vision.
Once he was able to hear and see properly, staff noticed some changes to his behaviour. He became calmer. There were no more instances of screaming and shouting at others. He became more compliant. These changes were mainly attributed to his hearing improvements.
After a while, he started attending education classes and participated fully in them. He was attentive.
As a consequence of these behavioural improvements, the young man was moved from the main block to what is known as the Enhancement Building. That’s more relaxed accommodation for trusted young offenders. It also enabled him to go outside the facility for placements and other activities.
YOI to University
By the time of his release, he was a changed man. ‘It made me feel so relieved,’ continues Florence, ‘our interventions with SchoolScreener were the catalyst that helped him to make the effort to turn his life around.’
That young man came back to HMP YOI Cookham Wood in January 2019. Not as a young offender this time, but to give a talk about how he had managed to turn his life around. He’s now studying at university.