Intimacy between care home residents with dementia: Findings from a review of the literature

Esther Wiskerke

Jill Manthorpe

First Published

July 13, 2016

           Research Article



is limited research on what family members and frontline care home
staff consider to be the best responses to the sexual expression of a
person with dementia, whilst at the same time respecting relatives’
feelings, managing their possible distress and conflict, and how good
practice should be reflected in care home policy and practice guidance.


literature review explored what is known of the views of relatives and
care workers of new relationships or sexual intimacy between care home
residents with dementia, whilst still married to another person. It
reports the findings of searches of three databases undertaken in August
2014 (Medline, Embase and PsychINFO).


papers were found relevant to the research question. The following
themes emerged from a synthesis of the papers located: sexuality in old
age, dementia and sexuality, hyper-sexuality, views regarding sexuality
of older people living in care homes, the law, ethics and consent,
relationships and communication between care home and relatives, and new
relationships or intimacy between residents with dementia.


studies of residents’ expression of sexuality and their engaging in
sexual behaviour with other resident(s) may be challenging to manage in
care home settings and can be emotionally painful or uncomfortable for
families, the review found that studies are few in number and span
emotional intimacy and distressing behaviour.

Published by Residential Forum

The Residential Forum is to promote the achievement of high standards of care and support for children and adults living in residential care and nursing homes, supported housing, residential schools and colleges, hospices and hostels. It contributes to improving the quality of service to the public. Members of the Forum are people of standing and experience drawn from the public, private and voluntary sectors, as well as some who can speak for service users and carers.

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