Challenges and opportunities in researching intimacy and sexuality in care homes accommodating older people: a feasibility study
Nursing home care
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AbstractAim: To explore the challenges of conducting research on sexuality and intimacy among older care home residents. Background: Sexuality and intimacy are neglected in care policies and practices. Design: Qualitative analytical study drawing on poststructuralist theorizing. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with residents and spouses (n = 6) and care staff (n = 16) in two care homes in Northwest England in 2014. The sample was obtained through a network of ‘research-ready’ care homes. Thematic analysis was used to make sense of narratives with the aid of NVivo10. Results: Participant responses highlight the workings of ageist erotophobic discourse that undergirds the assumption of residents (and old people generally) as postsexual. This materialized in reservations about the research ranging from opposition on moral grounds to doubts about its feasibility given the age-group concerned. However, residents and care home staff can also draw on counter-discourses that resist/challenge ageist erotophobic thinking, which materialized in methodological and ethical recommendations. Conclusion: Participants generally agreed with the principle of the research and made recommendations that could counter/resist ageist erotophobic governance and guide researchers on sampling, style of questioning and communicating with (prospective) study participants on a sensitive subject.