New guidance, from Skills For Care, aims to help employers think about how they can develop their staff through training. It explains what workers need to know and understand about personal relationships, and how they can create a workforce development programme for their organisation.
Relationships are an important part of everyone’s life and they can bring happiness, fulfilment and a greater sense of choice and control to the lives of people with learning disabilities.
Malcolm Mitchell works at The Avenues Group, who have introduced regular training around personal relationships. He explains: “Personal relationships are part of many peoples’ lives and everyone should have the opportunity to develop these relationships if they choose to.
"Providing support to people around personal relationships is a key part of a person-centred approach; it’s about people making their own choices about what they want from life, and offering support which allows them to live out these choices safely.”
However many people with learning disabilities still face barriers to building and developing personal relationships, including:
- Attitudinal barriers where care workers, families and even individuals themselves ‘desexualise’ people with learning disabilities
- A lack of accessible information for people with learning disabilities about personal relationships and sexuality
- A lack of training and resources for families and care workers which results in a perceived fear around personal relationships
- Practical barriers such as a lack of privacy, lack of support to meet people and unable to access transport.
It’s important that care workers and families understand the balance between supporting people to have meaningful personal relationships and protecting them from abuse or exploitation. This guidance can help you develop this understanding with workers and families, so they can manage this balance in a person-centre way.