February 7, 2017 3 min read

Sexuality And People In Residential Aged Care Facilities: A Guide For Partners And Families

The need for love, affection, physical closeness and contact continues throughout life, as does the desire to look and feel good. These needs are all part of our sexuality which can remain important for older people, including those with dementia.

A clinical care coordinator introduces contrasting crockery – blue plates on white table cloths – at meal times in a dementia unit.


This simple change yields several outcomes; the residents living with dementia stay at the table for longer, more food is consumed, and there is a corresponding reduction in food wastage and weight loss.

At another site, the introduction of weekly visits with local kindergarten students as part of an intergenerational program has many positive outcomes including happier residents, increased interaction, and increased family satisfaction with care.

These are just two Dementia Training Australia Fellowship projects that demonstrate better outcomes for people living with dementia, through the application of evidence-based knowledge to practice.

Fellowships are essentially coaching or mentoring partnerships between DTA and selected ‘champions’ within organisations.

The guide’s authors, Dr Michael Bauer and Dr Deirdre Fetherstonhaugh from the Australian Centre for Evidence-Based Aged Care at La Trobe University, also recognise that sexuality can be an awkward and difficult topic for family members, health professionals and aged care staff to discuss.

The guide would also be a useful starting point for aged care facility staff looking for information on this topic.

It was developed in consultation with consumers, including carers and people living with dementia, and funded by the Dementia Collaborative Research Centre-Carers and Consumers (DCRC-CC), and available for free download on the DCRC’s DementiaKT hub website at: dementiakt.com.au

Key Points

  • Fellowships are coaching or mentoring partnerships between DTA and selected ‘champions’ within organisations
  • DTA Fellowship programs see many positive outcomes including happier residents, increased interaction, and increased family satisfaction with care.
  • Fellowships have a common theme – to place the wellbeing of people living with dementia at the heart of care quality.

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Image credit: cover of resource courtesy of http://dementiaresearch.org.au (DCRCs)

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