Have your say

What do you think the new code of conduct for social
care workers should contain? What are the most important elements
of a code of conduct?

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Your comments will appear in this section of the website on
14 June.


Last week’s Have your say debate focused on the issue of
attitudes towards older gay men and lesbians. We asked how can care
homes be made friendlier to homosexuals, and should we have
separate care homes for them?

These are the responses we received:

Back in the 1980s I took up my first post
managing a care home for older people.

I was made aware of two women who had previously shared a
bedroom but had been split up. Their notes stated “inappropriate
behaviour”, an entry signed by the previous manager. I was further
startled by the fact that medication had been used (and we’re not
talking Viagra here). When I arrived both women were
uncommunicative and clearly unhappy, but I noticed they became
suddenly animated when sitting near each other in the dining room.
When I questioned a senior care assistant she told me: “They are
queer”. Well, I thought, that’s alright then!

My actual response to her was: “So am I, so what?” Needless to
say I moved them back in together, and used staff meetings to
discuss issues around sexuality, privacy and the right to be in
relationships. Things improved, the couple were obviously enjoying
each other in whatever way they chose but, some staff still found
it something to snigger about when they thought I was out of

It is rather depressing to think this still happens in 2002. Of
course training is important as is the existence of a robust equal
opportunities policy.

But, at the end of the day, those staff who continue to find
difficulty accepting sexual activity (gay or straight) amongst
their residents should be encouraged to take their attitude and
their P45 elsewhere.

Personally, as a gay man, if I ever need residential care when I
get older I hope to find a more enlightened place ……… and
preferably a place where some like minded talent is


In speaking of the homophobic managers comment
about ‘dirty pervs’ an attempt is made at explaining why the couple
were holding hands; why say the manager didn’t know that one of the
women was feeling unwell and needed her partner to steady her? (see
Community Care 30 May- 5 June page 31).

If a heterosexual couple wanted to hold hands they wouldn’t need
to explain or be ill!

Sue Davis

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