Palliative Care, Intimacy, and Sexual Expression in the Older Adult Residential Care Context: "Living until You Don't"

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MDPI (Basel, Switzerland)
Commonly, frail older adults move to residential care, a liminal space that is their home, sometimes a place of death, and a workplace. Residential facilities typically espouse person-centred values, which are variably interpreted. A critical approach to person-centred care that focuses on social citizenship begins to address issues endemic in diminishing opportunities for intimacy in the end-of-life residential context: risk-averse policies; limited education; ageism; and environments designed for staff convenience. A person-centred approach to residents’ expressions of intimacy and sexuality can be supported throughout end-of-life care. The present study utilised a constructionist methodology to investigate meanings associated with intimacy in the palliative and end-of-life care context. There were 77 participants, including residents, family members and staff, from 35 residential facilities. Analysis identified four key themes: care home ethos and intimacy; everyday touch as intimacy; ephemeral intimacy; and intimacy mediated by the built environment. Residents’ expressions of intimacy and sexuality are supported in facilities where clinical leaders provide a role-model for a commitment to social citizenship. Ageism, restrictive policies, care-rationing, functional care, and environmental hindrances contribute to limited intimacy and social death. Clinical leaders have a pivotal role in ensuring person-centred care through policies and practice that support residents’ intimate reciprocity.
Copyright: © 2022 by the authors.
aged residential care, person-centred care, sexual expression, social citizenship, social death, Humans, Aged, Homes for the Aged, Palliative Care, Sexual Behavior, Sexual Partners, Sexuality
Cook C, Henrickson M, Schouten V. (2022). Palliative Care, Intimacy, and Sexual Expression in the Older Adult Residential Care Context: "Living until You Don't".. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 19. 20. (pp. 13080-).