This article explores the current law, policy and practice issues relevant to sexuality and dementia, particularly in care home settings. These issues include: the assessment of the sexual needs of people with dementia; how decision-making capacity about sex is considered and supported; the rights-based issues for service users and carers; how sexual relationships within care homes may be facilitated; and some of the complexities in practice. It is argued that these issues have not been appropriately addressed in the past and identifies some of the possible societal, cultural and individual barriers to people in care settings, especially those with dementia, expressing their sexuality. There is an increasing need to consider these issues due to: demographic changes; developments in legal and policy frameworks; and better understanding of people’s rights and capacity to make decisions. The article focuses on services in Northern Ireland where a proposed new legal framework, the Mental Capacity (Health, Welfare and Finance) Bill, will have important implications for future practice in this area. The immediate implications for practice are also discussed and recommendations are outlined for: assessment; person-centred approaches; strategies for intervention; training and support; and policy development.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Sociology and Political Science