Let’s talk about the S word: developing an interactive training resource to help care home staff support residents’ sexuality and intimacy needs

Sexuality, physical intimacy, and relationships are important for people of all ages. However, older people living in care homes can find it difficult to have these needs met.

For instance, there may not be places in the home where they can share a kiss or cuddle with a partner in private. Residents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) may also face judgement and discrimination.

Care home staff can find it difficult to help residents with their sexuality, intimacy and relationship needs. They might feel embarrassed or uncomfortable talking to residents about these things, or be unsure what is appropriate. Some staff members don’t even realise that older people can be sexual, or that they might want intimate relationships.

The Older People’s Understanding of Sexuality (‘OPUS’) research team  are now working with care home staff and residents to develop and test a new staff training package that will help them to support their residents’ sexuality, intimacy, and relationship needs. 

Project objectives

Work with care homes to design and create an interactive training resource that increases the knowledge, skills and confidence of care home staff to support residents’ sexuality, intimacy and relationship needs.

Assess how acceptable, feasible and effective this training resource is.

About OPUS

The Older People’s Understandings of Sexuality research initiative was established to investigate older people – generally those over 60 - and sexuality and intimacy – a much neglected topic.

Its broader aims are to challenge stereotypes of older people as asexual or beyond or unworthy of being involved in sexual/intimate relations and to contribute to understandings of older people as sexual and intimate citizens. This will involve clarifying the realities of older people's personal lives and challenging stereotypes of them

Principle investigator

  • Dr Maria Horne, School of Healthcare, University of Leeds
  • Manchester Co-Investigator: Dr Laura J. E. Brown

Additional universities/external partners

  • Dr Paul Simpson, Edge Hill University
  • Dr Tommy Dickinson, King’s College London
  • Professor Christine Brown-Wilson, Queen’s University Belfast.


The Abbeyfield Research Foundation

Funding period

1 November 2018 - 31 October 2020

Disciplines involved

Nursing, Psychology, sociology, community and public health

Contact: laura.brown@manchester.ac.uk