Accessing Intimacy: The Experience of Younger Long-Term Care Residents
Sawatsky, Meghann Leslie
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The sex and intimacy needs of persons with disabilities are increasingly highlighted in research, particularly during the last two decades. There is also research to examine the experience of staff within long term care related to the sex and intimacy needs or behaviours of long-term care residents. However, there is limited research examining the experience of sex and intimacy from the viewpoint of residents, particularly younger residents of long-term care. This qualitative research study uses a phenomenological approach to explore the experiences of persons with disabilities, under the age of 70, living in a long-term care facility, accessing a sexual and intimate life. Four participants were recruited using a purposive, criterion sample. Through the data analysis, a central theme of It’s About Belonging emerged along with four subordinate themes, which include; Being Different From Others, New Relationships and Connections, Being Left, and Staff Facilitated. The discussion includes suggestions for increased education related to sexuality and intimacy for long-term care staff, the need for increased social work support, and long-term care alternatives. Improvements to the current long-term care system, such as smaller community homes, increased investment in community care are some ways in which the isolations experienced after moving to long term care could be alleviated.