Journal of Professional Nursing

Staff beliefs about sexuality in aged residential care

Mary Jane Gilmer, MN, NP Primary Health Care, Senior Lecturer, Auckland University of Technology
Alannah Meyer, MN, RN, Senior Lecturer, Eastern Institute of Technology, Hawkes Bay
Jocelyn Davidson, RN, BHSc, Dip Gerontology, Lecturer, Eastern Institute of Technology, Hawkes Bay
Jane Koziol-McLain, PhD, RN, Professor of Nursing, Auckland University of Technology

Reference:  Gilmer, M. J., Meyer, A., Davidson, J., & Koziol-McLain, J. (2010). Staff beliefs about sexuality in aged residential care. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 26(3), 17-24.


Expression of sexuality is a lifelong need and a basic human right, yet little is known about how staff in aged care facilities approach and manage the sexuality needs of residents. Fifty-two staff members from the rest home component of aged care facilities in one District Health Board completed a survey anonymously. Findings indicated that while the majority believe residents have sexual needs that should be acknowledged and supported, expression of sexuality often created discomfort and the need was not regularly assessed, or managed by a team approach. Lack of privacy, negative staff and family attitudes plus the difficulty of managing risk make responding to sexuality a complex issue. The combination of individual and institutional barriers suggest that thoughtful and creative team strategies are required to address the sexuality related needs of the older person in residential care.

Sexuality, residential care, aged, attitude of health personnel

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