Thursday 17 December 2015

Nursing Standard cover

Research undertaken by the University of Northampton’s Jane Youell has been featured in this month’s Nursing Standard, and the esteemed journal has featured the research on their cover.

Jane Youell – who has completed her PhD and is now working within the University’s Institute of Health and Wellbeing – investigated how people living with dementia and their carers experience and understand the changes in sexuality that come with the condition. The research printed in Nursing Standard analyses policy documents and literature, and uses case studies to provide practical guidance to nurses in relation to sexual expression in people with dementia.

“I learned from my research into intimacy and dementia that when a person develops dementia it is the intimate relationships which they hold that become more important and meaningful, but that for older people this aspect of loving and caring was often overlooked or underestimated,” explained Jane.

“When conducting my initial PhD research I heard some really beautiful, poignant stories which challenge assumptions about aged relationships and highlight how care interventions often rupture long standing partnerships. I heard how participants shared a bed for 50 years before a hospital bed downstairs was needed. I heard how participants created a home which included their partner even though they would not be able to live with them. I heard the meaning of lying next to the same ‘nice warm body’ you have laid next to for 40 years. I heard how participants held on to the last little bit of their partner as dementia eroded their mind and body. I heard love stories. What I learned above all else is that dementia is not just a medical condition, it has relational consequences too.”

Jane continued: “Medical staff are reluctant to ask about intimacy in relationships affected by dementia because they either think it is not an issue ‘at their time of life’, that it would ‘open up a can of worms’, that it is ‘some other professionals job to ask’ or that ‘there is nothing that can be done’.  Well, I would like to challenge some of that thinking.”

‘Enabling sexual expression in people with dementia’ is printed in December’s Nursing Standard. To view the abstract, click here.

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