Supporting Personal Relationships guide launched


Avenues believes that supporting choice around personal relationships is essential for a fulfilling and meaningful life. Area Manager Malcolm Mitchell developed and leads the organisation’s training on relationships, sex and sexuality for people with a learning disability ...

“I had been working with staff at a number of Avenues services and realised they weren’t confident discussing sex and relationships with the people we support, or in offering support to them to have intimate relationships if they wanted to.

“Personal relationships are part of peoples’ lives and everyone should have the opportunity to develop these relationships if they choose to. They might range from building friendships to having intimate relationships. Providing support to people around these 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.”

These conversations led to the development of a training course at Avenues, which is now delivered every six weeks to operational staff to help them develop skills in supporting personal relationships.

“The training is designed firstly to get people talking, which is sometimes challenging as people feel embarrassed or uncomfortable. It’s really important to create an environment where people can talk openly and we’ve found that by doing this we have had some really beneficial sessions.

“When supporting personal relationships, it’s essential to establish boundaries and work within the legislation. It’s about keeping people safe, by giving them an understanding of the risks associated with sex, and how to minimise them. Our training looks to up skill staff so they know how to make sure people are protected from harm and abuse. It’s also about making sure that they have the information they need about external services and are able to refer people to the right support, for example sexual health clinics.

“We provide staff with the skills and knowledge to support people to manage their expectations of relationships and what they will be like, including understanding that relationships might not last forever, and that the end of a relationship might mean dealing with negative feelings.

“Essentially, many staff said ‘I don’t know what to do.’ The training is about responding to this, and making sure that they do.”

Skills for Care released a guide on supporting personal relationships today, more information and all our training resources are available in the guide here.


4th December 2017