This is a quick ‘at a glance summary’. Please see full article (link below) for more details.

Who is the guidance for?

This guidance is intended for providers of adult social care and is a central component of providing care that is tailored to the individual’s needs. Care providers have a responsibility to protect people who can’t make safe decisions on their own.

What does it encompass?

The CQC requires care providers to understand the needs of people and to support them when they want to have relationships.

This summary guidance is designed to raise awareness amongst providers, of the sexuality related needs of people using adult social care services. The guidance highlights the importance of supporting people to form and maintain relationships, and considers circumstances where some people may be at risk of harm.

It covers: sex and being close to another, romance, personal choice around dress and clothing, capacity to consent, gender identity, sexual orientation, providing a safe and non- judgemental environment.

Why is this necessary?

This is all part of ensuring and promoting dignity in care and personalised care. There are 2 parts to the guidance.

  1. Enabling intimacy and supporting positive
  2. Protecting the vulnerable from either unwanted sexual activity or abusive relationships and ensuring capacity to consent has been properly

Checks may need to be carried out to see if someone has the capacity to agree to sex. In law, both people must be able to agree to sex. Their capacity needs to be regularly reassessed.

Care providers need to give people information to help them to make safe choices about sex and relationships.

Care providers need to be vigilant and protect those in their care from unwanted attention or from those who unwittingly upset others by behaving inappropriately.

Some people may behave in ways that are unsafe because of their health condition – for example if they have dementia, or other conditions that lead to a loss of inhibition. They may not know that the way they behave is upsetting to others.

Providers are to help their clients keep their dignity and to protect them or others from unsafe behaviours.

What do Care Homes need to do to implement the guidance?

  • Have in place a policy on ‘Relationships and Sexuality’.
  • ProRisk Care makes the following suggestion:- select a member of staff who can become a ‘dignity in care champion’ (see link below) and who would be responsible for the application and regular review of this
  • Assess people’s needs for intimacy and relationships whilst in their care setting. (The easy read version of the guide below demonstrates what should be included in the assessment).
  • Enable a positive environment encouraging mutually desired intimate relationships and  providing
  • Provide training for the care staff to enable confidence and competence in assessing sexual needs. As well as enabling the provision of an appropriate, safe and compassionate

How will it be assessed?

In addition to the usual key lines of enquiry, inspectors may ask the following additional questions to ensure providers are helping people develop intimate personal relationships.

  • Does the organisation have a ‘relationship and sexuality policy’, including an easy read version?
  • Does the organisation recognise that people have different ways of experiencing and expressing sexuality?
  • Are staff trained to support people with their personal relationship needs?
  • Are there examples that demonstrate positive support for relationships?
  • Is there accessible information about, and links with, sexual health services?
  • What is the policy for allowing people to have guests staying over for the night?
  • How does the setting accommodate people who are in existing relationships?
  • How are people encouraged and supported to develop relationships?
  • Are people using the service given information and support about relationships and sexual health?
  • Can people be signposted to a local organisation that provides this service?
  • Are staff aware of what action to take if they have concerns that someone is at risk of harm or abuse?

Caroline Lower

ProRisk Care Consultant

PUBLICATION.pdf providers/