It was a week ago – how time flies when you are doing something you love – that I was travelling up to the really rather lovely Todmorden, home to Asquith Hall Specialist Nursing Home. I had been invited to deliver some sexuality, intimacy and dementia training as part of their Pride week. I travelled up the night before and felt like a rock star when they sent a driver to pick me up the following morning.
I was particularly interested in the work that Asquith Hall were doing as it relates directly to the work of my Churchill Fellowship which saw me travel to Australia and USA to investigate inclusive aged care for the LGBTI+ community. I had seen some examples of good practice on my travels and I was delighted that Asquith Hall seemed to be tackling this often overlooked issue.
Having an appreciation of the history, stigma, inequalities and trauma experienced by some members of the LGBTI community is essential in health and social care and I was delighted to see the rainbow welcome that awaited all visitors during Pride week at Asquith Hall. There were banners, inflatable rainbows, Pride flags, pom poms – I was even presented with a lovely goodie bag on my departure 🙂
The training sessions were well attended. It was interesting because I sensed that I was really challenging some of the preconceptions of a couple of attendees, but I was delighted to see that by the end of the training session they had shifted in their attitude a little. It is complex, nuanced and challenging work considering the sexual, intimate experiences of people living with dementia, so I get how tough it can be to think about these things. If I can get people to even consider it I take that as a win!
My ethos is a rights-based, person centred, relational approach. My brief when originally developing the training was around challenging assumptions and offering practical solutions. The use of ‘real-life’ case studies and a dash of humour also helps. Another consequence of hosting this type of training is how it makes LGBTI+ staff feel safe. On several occasions, staff members have confided that they have felt they need to keep their sexual identify a secret from other staff members and residents and that this type of training enables them to feel safer in their workplace.
I am delighted that 100% of attendees (even the ones who looked very doubtful when they first came in) would recommend the training, with some suggesting it should be mandatory. I am not sure how many other care homes are hosting Pride weeks, but I am hopeful that many more will. I’m only sorry that I couldn’t attend the whole week – it looks like everyone had an amazing time.
Dr Jane Youell is a Chartered Psychologist and dementia specialist. Her research interest lies in sexuality, intimacy and dementia. Any organisation wishing to find out more about her training and consultancy work should contact firstname.lastname@example.org