Supporting people with learning disabilities to have positive sexual relationships: Frontline Briefing (2017)

Published: 01/02/2017

Author: Harflett N, Griffiths R



What is the issue and why is it an important area of practice to address?

People with learning disabilities experience barriers in areas of life that many people take for granted. One area that people with learning disabilities face particular barriers in is having the opportunity to develop, experience and sustain romantic and/or sexual relationships. Although supporting people with learning disabilities to develop friendships and become involved in social and community activities is generally seen as a core part of individuals’ support packages, this is not necessarily the case for sexual relationships.

This briefing has been written for social care practitioners to enable them to reflect on practice that will support people with learning disabilities to have positive sexual relationships.

The briefing sets out to:

  • describe the issue and why it is an important area of practice to focus on
  • provide an overview of the evidence on the barriers to developing relationships for people with learning disabilities
  • identify what works to support people with learning disabilities to develop relationships
  • support practitioners to reflect on what they can do to address the barriers and enable the people they work with to develop positive relationships

Professional Standards

PQS:KSS - Values and ethics | Developing confident and capable social workers | Assuring good social work practice and development | The role of social workers | Person-centred practice | Mental capacity | Direct work with individuals and families | Level of capability: at the end of their first year in employment

CQC - Responsive | Safe | Well-led

PCF - Values and ethics | Diversity and equality | Rights, justice and economic wellbeing

RCOT - Service users | Develop intervention | Communication | Support development

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