Opening a can of worms: consenting adults in aged care

Alison Rahn, Amy Lykins, Cary Bennett, Tiffany Jones

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


With Consumer Directed Care (CDC) on the horizon and a wave of baby boomers who are ageing, aged care providers need to be aware of and respect the desires and requirements of future ‘consumers’. In contrast with current provider arrangements, funding is linked to the individual rather than the institution in a
CDC model, with the likelihood that there will be greater demand for those facilities that meet emerging consumer expectations and offer couple-friendly environments. One group that has largely been ignored at all levels in residential care, from government policy to service provision, is couples, or partnered
individuals. Situated within a broader study exploring the needs of partnered baby boomers, this paper investigates whether existing residential aged care facilities provide the conditions needed to facilitate the sexual and intimacy needs of partnered aged care residents. Such exploration is particularly pertinent at a time when the National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Ageing and Aged Care Strategy is being implemented. In this presentation we report on early findings of a phenomenological study using semi-structured interviews conducted in 2015 with 29 key informants with expertise and experience in aged care law, policy, practice, health, education, research and related service areas. Early findings suggest that difficult though necessary conversations are being avoided by older people, by those representing them, and by service providers. Recommendations for aged care providers include the need for comprehensive education and training in the areas of sexuality and intimacy with the aim to facilitate communication around residents’ sexual needs and the formulation of individually tailored care plans. We believe that such initiatives would have the potential to create more positive outcomes for partnered older persons and aged care staff.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBringing research to life
Subtitle of host publication14th National Conference of Emerging Researchers in Ageing : program & proceedings
Place of PublicationMelbourne
PublisherNational Ageing Research Institute
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes
EventNational Conference of Emerging Researchers in Ageing (14th : 2015) - Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 7 Dec 20158 Dec 2015


ConferenceNational Conference of Emerging Researchers in Ageing (14th : 2015)


  • sexuality
  • aged care
  • consent


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