, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 187-194
Date: 30 May 2010

Sexuality in Residential Aged Care: A Survey of Perceptions and Policies in Australian Nursing Homes

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Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with nursing managers from 198 randomly selected residential aged care facilities (RACFs) in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, Australia to gather information about how they perceive and respond to the sexual expression of elderly residents, particularly in relation to policy and training. Participants expressed positive views about the rights of residents for sexual expression but few facilities had any formal policies or training programs in place. Managers identified a range of sexuality-related issues as sources of concern in their day to day operation, however, these tended to be dealt with in an informal and ad hoc way. The lack of policy guidelines and training in this area leads to inconsistent and uncertain practice, with negative implications for the sexual health of residents and the smooth functioning of facilities. A national level approach to policy development is indicated.