Alzheimer’s Society is calling for greater training and awareness among care home staff when it comes to sex and relationships.
The charity says that staff caring for people with dementia are having to tackle sensitive and often difficult situations on a daily basis, and that all care homes should have a specific sex and intimacy policy in place.
Kathryn Smith, Director of Operations at Alzheimer’s Society, said:
‘Everyone has the right to express their sexuality without fear of judgment. This is no less the case for people with dementia. Where sexual difficulties do arise, it’s important to remember that there is no single ‘normal’ way of dealing with this very personal issue. In the end what it comes down to is mental capacity and care homes need to manage any potentially difficult situations which do occur in conjunction with the individual’s family. These can be very sensitive conversations to have so it is vitally important that staff have the right level of training and awareness in this area.
‘There probably is a bit more of a taboo. I think it’s an age thing. If you speak to staff in a younger adults care home, they don’t have the same taboo issue when it comes to intimacy. They talk about it much more reasonably. I think it’s the older person thing, people can’t help but find it odd that their mum or dad or grandparents might want to have sex, but would most of us say that we would stop when we get to 50, or 70, or 90? When you are talking about two people in a care home, it’s their children you’re having that conversation with, and most people find the idea of their parents having sex quite difficult to deal with.
‘I do think it’s becoming less of a taboo, care homes are becoming more aware of their responsibilities and how they will manage this, but it is still quite difficult for families to think about.’
The Care Quality Commission, the independent regulator of health and social care in England, has revealed that it is, for the first time, looking at how care homes are tackling these kind of issues as part of a new inspection regime which kicked off last month.