Couples’ privacy in residential aged care

Alison Rahn, Cary Bennett, Tiffany Jones, Amy Lykins

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review


Currently, a third of Australian aged care residents are partnered, with many experiencing institutional interference in their relationships. Staff duty of care usually takes precedence over privacy. Some institutions separate couples; residents’ doors may be kept open; staff enter without knocking, ignore ‘do not disturb’ signs, or gossip about residents; all of which make privacy a challenge. This paper reports on findings from an online survey into the needs of partnered Baby Boomers (born 1946-65) and the levels of privacy that they anticipate they will require to maintain their primary relationships in residential aged care facilities. At a time marked by a policy shift towards consumer-directed residential aged care, it is pertinent to understand the needs of this subset of future consumers. Our research found that the majority of respondents expected to remain sexual indefinitely, considered physical intimacy with their partners essential to their wellbeing, and required a high degree of privacy to maintain their relationships. Respondents were asked to rate seven domains of privacy. Those considered most important were visual privacy, private space, and bodily privacy. This paper outlines various ways for service providers to prepare for the next generation of consumers, initiatives that would enable residents and their families to make informed decisions when choosing a facility, potentially improving the experiences of both residents and staff.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication16th National Conference of Emerging Researchers in Ageing
Subtitle of host publicationDigging for gold : building success in ageing research : conference program and proceedings
Place of PublicationPerth
PublisherCurtin University
Number of pages3
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes
EventNational Conference of Emerging Researchers in Ageing (16th : 2017): Digging for gold : building success in ageing - Technology Park Function Centre, Bentley, Perth, Australia
Duration: 6 Nov 20177 Nov 2017
Conference number: 16th


ConferenceNational Conference of Emerging Researchers in Ageing (16th : 2017)
Internet address


  • aged care
  • couples
  • privacy
  • sexuality


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