The fullest of care plans and a broad grin: Chaseley care home and their residents.
As Chasely Home come out about their service users' sex worker visits, perhaps we need to think a little more about just how holistic our care provision is. Sarah Kean-Price reports on Chaseley and details resources for care workers looking to inform themselves.
18th February 2013
Can we talk about sex? Let's talk about sex. Let's talk about sex, social care and helping people to have sex. The squeamish need not apply and, if you find the subject unethical, then just click away ï¿½ this is going to be a frank chat about rubbing bits of our bodies together for pleasure and sometimes for money.
Likely, you've heard about Chasely care home in East Sussex; staff recently went on record as unashamedly assisting service users to procure sex workers. East Sussex Council were unaware of it and have promptly launched an enquiry to ensure no abuse.
The Chasely don't see the problem; they consider sex visits as therapeutic and part of a holistic care package, carried out after consultative assistance from the Futures@Chailey Heritage project who in turn work with the Sexual Health and Disability Alliance (SHADA).
Denise Banks of Chailey Heritage Foundation welcomes Chaseley's sex-positive attitude saying ï¿½Itï¿½s really down to an individual approach. We want to allow people to express their sexuality.ï¿½ She also showed the appropriate amount of awareness, going on to say: ï¿½We do have to be very careful because when you are working with very vulnerable people you have to make sure they are not being pushed in a certain direction.ï¿½
I started this article thinking that it might be interesting to have a longer discussion about why you may or may not procure a sex worker for your clients with salacious debate on whether it's right or wrong but I was wrong: that's not much of an article. As I said above, it's the 21st century and it's generally held that a secular, open approach in social care is fundamental to ensure everyone's needs are approached, met and equably dealt with.
Let's talk about instead about how we, as social care workers, can support our service users to explore their sexuality and intimacy needs as responsibly as we can.
First things first. You don't initiate talks about sex with them. Got that? You don't plant the idea, you don't lead the conversation and you don't ask questions about it. They come to you. There will be specific instances where multi-disciplinary teams might talk about it and debate the right course of action. But you don't inititate the subject with your user unless you are damn sure you know what you are doing with the relevant post-graduate qualifications and years of experience to back it up.
With regards to your user, highlight any concerns to their keyworker, social worker or your line manager and where appropriate, direct them to a relevant service.
We haven't space to go into too much detail here but an absolutely brilliant starting place is the About.Com Sex and Disability link section. This list just about covers the full spectrum of sexuality and even has resources geared towards specific disorders, such as Cystic Fibrosis.
For a bit of insight into your own attitudes and hang-ups towards talking about sexuality in a professional capacity, go to The Sexual Respect Tool Kit. This is a resource aimed at enabling GPs to better talk about sex but it makes a useful overview for any health care worker who might need to converse on the subject.
If your service user is past talking about it and well into it, then they may find Spokz a useful website. It's predominately a site selling wheelchairs and accessories but they also have a range of sex toys and aids aimed towards those with physical disabilities. Helpfully, they have a page populated with tips and tricks from those in the know as well as the option for a home visit to assess sex toy needs and showcase their products.
We hope these are helpful and would love to hear if you know any good sites or organisations yourself. Let us know on our Facebook page now and share it with the rest of our readers.