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Skills for Care Conducts Review to Support Social Care Workers in Discussing Sexuality and Relationships

Skills for Care, in collaboration with Supported Loving, Care Quality Commission (CQC), and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), has conducted a learning materials review to provide social care staff in England with information on resources to best support people who draw on care and support with matters of sexuality and intimate relationships.

All resources collated within the review are available within a database on the Skills for Care website, where the full learning review is also published.

It is important to acknowledge that people who draw on care and support, have sexual and personal relationship needs and this review is an important step in supporting people working in social care in feeling more confident about discussing matters of sexuality and personal relationships with the people they support.

The review follows the CQC report ‘Promoting sexual safety through empowerment’ (2020) which underlined the basic human right for people to express their sexuality and to be empowered, supported, and protected when using adult social care services

Research conducted by Skills for Care identified that building confidence and providing support around discussions of relationships and sexuality is a key need for people working in social care, as the majority (45%) of those surveyed said that a need for discussions surrounding any aspect of sexuality or intimate relationships occurred monthly within their role.

Yet, when asked on a scale of 1 to 5, how confident they felt having conversations about sexuality and relationships with the people they supported (1 being not at all confident and 5 being very confident) the average rating was 3.5, indicating that confidence levels had space to improve.

The research also found that just 37% of organisations provided sexuality and relationship training to staff, and of those, only 20% of organisations made this training mandatory. It was also found that most training departments were producing their own training rather than using an established resource.

Some of the key areas where people working in social care stated resources and information would be beneficial included with relationship support, matters of capacity and consent, building confidence and removing taboo around discussions of sexuality, laws and rights, medical issues, and values.

It is hoped that this review will be the first step towards creating a standardised approach towards supporting people working in social care with discussing and supporting matters of sexuality and relationships in their role.

Oonagh Smyth, CEO at Skills for Care says:

“Social care is fundamentally about supporting everyone to live the lives they want; this includes within their personal relationships.

“We know from our research that this is something which the majority of people working in social care don’t feel fully confident with, and in our role of empowering social care leaders and teams it is important that we help to build confidence and knowledge in this area.

“This learning review collates a range of resources which can be used by people working across different settings and supporting people with a variety of needs to feel confident in helping the people they support to enjoy positive, safe, and fulfilling personal relationships, which is something many of us choose to have in our lives.”

Dr Claire Bates, Supported Loving Leader says:

“At Supported Loving we passionately believe that high-quality, up-to-date and practical resources are needed for social care staff to feel confident and well-equipped to assist around sexuality and relationships.

“It is important that organisations know what training resources are available to assist them in providing such essential support to enable people to enjoy relationships and sexual freedoms.

“We are really excited to work with Skills for Care, CQC, and DHSC on this project and are encouraged by their commitment to bring the topic of sexuality and intimate relationships within social care into the spotlight.

“We hope this resource inspires organisations to start engaging with such a fundamental aspect of human nature. “