Patrick Gorbunovs

Focus on dementia patients' sexuality

MANAGING the delicate issue of sexual expression among people with dementia is the focus of a new education resource produced by Griffith University researcher Dr Cindy Jones.

The first resource of its kind, which has been funded by the Department of Health and Ageing and Queensland Dementia Training and Study Centres, Sexualities and Dementia: Education Resource for Health Professionals is aimed at helping health professionals working across care settings.

The free e-learning resource aims to increase awareness of intimacy, sexualities and sexual behaviours specific to people with dementia and to guide their carers on how to better support them.

It is also the first e-learning resource in Australia to include concerns and issues faced by non-heterosexual people with dementia, including those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex.

"It became apparent that there was a real gap in the education of health professionals regarding sexualities and dementia, with no other comprehensive resource, which specifically addresses the needs of this group," Dr Jones said.

"Our research revealed that when presented with these challenging situations, interventions taken by health professionals are often quite reactive rather than proactive, with many staff simply not knowing what to do.

"The resource provides a framework to guide the development of policy and guidelines to address issues of sexual expression in care settings.

"The important message is that expression of sexuality is a part of life no matter what age we are and that older people with dementia therefore also need to be considered."

The resource is available from the National DTSC website dtsc.com.au and as a CD-Rom.

There are also two workshops on the subject in Brisbane on April 8 and the Gold Coast on June 25.

Send inquiries to Sandra Jeavons at s.jeavons@qut.edu.au.



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