New guidance addresses relationships and sexuality among people using adult social care services

Published: 21 February 2019 Page last updated: 12 May 2022

Guidance published by CQC today sets out how care providers should consider people's relationship and sexuality needs.

A range of complex issues

The guidance builds on our quality framework, adding further detail on issues like relationships, diversity and protecting people from harm. It covers a diverse range of often complex issues, including supporting people to form and maintain relationships, while also helping them to understand risks. It also highlights the importance of offering an environment that is welcoming to LGBT+ people, as well as looking at how to support those with physical disabilities.

Sexual expression and personal wellbeing

The guidance was developed with the support of a number of providers and public representative bodies. Claire Bates of the Supported Loving campaign and Sue Sharples of U-Night Group said:

"This is a long-awaited document that will give providers clarity and direction in relation to a sensitive and complex area of need.

"It affirms the link between supporting opportunities for sexual expression and personal wellbeing, within a framework of care services' regulatory responsibilities.

"Our organisations were pleased to be consulted in the development phase of the guidance, including gaining the perspective of members with a learning disability."

The best care is person-centred

In response to the new guidance Debbie Westhead, Acting Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, said:

"We know that the best care is person-centred and in supporting relationships and sexuality there can be no one approach that fits all.

"Supporting people to build and maintain relationships in the way they want to is incredibly important, regardless of who they are or what stage of life they are at. This guidance aims to ensure providers are supporting people to form and maintain sexual relationships that meet their needs, while also helping them to understand risks."