Thursday, 7 January 2016

Relationships in care homes

I gather that some 'care homes', believe they have a right, a duty even, to separate two residents who have developed a close relationship  -  even to the point of asking for one of them to be moved elsewhere. I'm finding it hard to believe that an organisation thinks it has the right to interfere with such a relationship simply because the two people involved are living with dementia. Of course, if there appeared to have been any evidence of coercion of one person by another there would need to be some investigation and probably action, but whether two people are just good friends  -  holding hands say  -  or decide to take things further, they have, prima facie, the same rights as any other people. This is, after all the twenty-first century.

A useful way of looking at the whole issue, and it can be applied to many other areas, is whether the fact that the two people involved are living with dementia inevitably means that there are different rules that should be applied to them by people who aren't living with dementia and therefore know 'better'. Many people not living with dementia get themselves into relationships which their 'loved ones' and others deem ill-advised. People without dementia may misunderstand what the other person in a relationship really wants, may abuse the other person mentally and physically, sometimes to the point of murder, and generally make their close relatives very unhappy.

Such a relationship may upset other people, become embarrassing to other people, make life complicated - all things that can happen when any relationship between any two human beings develops.

Take a situation where two people in a care home living with dementia and having no living family develop a relationship which becomes physical. Is that 'acceptable'?

If someone is unequivocally incapable of making a decision as to whether they want a relationship, physical or otherwise, then clearly action is required. But just to mention 'capacity' is not a good enough reason to act. People can easily disagree about it and it is a slippery concept at the best of times.

I hope and suspect that most care homes would recognise the subtleties involved and not have a blanket ban on relationships between residents.

1 comment:

  1. I agree entirely with you. I have fought many battles with relatives who deem their cared for person cannot have any intimate relationship with others.