Practice Issues in Sexuality and Learning Disabilities

By Ann Craft | Go to book overview

1

Personal relationships and sexuality

The staff role
Ann Craft and Hilary Brown
INTRODUCTION
Whether members of staff are conscious of it or not, they play a central part in the personal relationship needs of people with a learning disability. They are inevitably drawn into a form of intimacy, in physical caring, in emotional responsiveness, in social activities and networks, which has no obvious parallel. To meet the demands placed on them they may draw on a range of models to guide them about appropriate involvement and boundaries, they may base their relationships on those they have with their children or siblings, with friends or colleagues, or on more established 'professional' roles such as that of a teacher, counsellor or social worker. Any of these may be valid, in whole or in part, but all imply different approaches to:
—goals of intervention
—style of work
—expertise and knowledge
—appropriate distance
—mix of control and empowerment
—accountability and openness.

By looking more closely at what these roles involve it is hoped that we can delineate a distinctive mode of working on sexuality issues, which enables staff to be more purposeful and empowering in their work with individuals with a learning disability.

The chapter has three main sections. First we will look at the general context of professional interactions between staff and individuals with a learning disability. Second we shall explore the various aspects of a positive staff role in relation to the personal relationships and sexuality needs of service users. Third, we will consider the needs of staff if they are to fulfil this positive role.

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