|dc.description.abstract||Introduction: Research shows that sexual expression provides emotional and physical benefits throughout life and does not diminish with age or loss of capacity (Rennie et al. 2017). Older persons, living in care home, including people living with dementia see themselves as sexual beings and with a continuous need and desire to embody sexual expression. However, evidence demonstrates that sexual needs of ‘residents’ living in nursing or care homes are not viewed as an important part of nursing care (Bauer et al. 2013). Sexual expression is often overlooked as an important part of life in persons with dementia and is still considered the most difficult ‘symptom’ of the behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) model to manage by nurses (Tucker 2010).
Aims and Objectives: This study aimed to generate new knowledge on the meaning of sexual expression in persons living with dementia for person-centred nursing practice and theory. This study also aimed to understand more about how sexual expression effects nurses working in care homes and how sexual expression influences the care of persons with dementia.
Methodology: Drawing on existential phenomenology, and person-centred theory as well as new principles drawn from the sensuous literature, I had conversations with four persons living with dementia to explore the nature and meaning of sexual expression. I was able to explore this sensitive topic in a dignified and respectful way by working with a rigorous process consent framework that enabled inclusion of adults with incapacity. I observed eleven nurses and carers and had dialogues with them at work to find out about their experiences of sexual expression within caring. Drawing on four existential principles, I was able to produce rich contextualised descriptions of the participant’s experiences of sexual expression.
Findings: Findings show that for persons living with dementia, three topics were unconcealed within the phenomena of sexual expression. They were: (1) embodied sensuous-sexuality; (2) meaningful sexual relationships and (3) sexuality and nursing home culture. For the nurses, findings show that the following topics were significant in nurses experiences of caring for persons living with dementia who express themselves sexually: (1) personal values and beliefs on older persons sexuality; (2) cultural norms around sensuous-sexual expression; (3) the ageing body and (4) lack of awareness and education. Finally, I have developed a ‘Sensuous-Sexual Expression Framework’, which is a new practice framework, and an alternative to BPSD, to view sensuous-sexual in persons living with dementia.
Conclusions: This is the first study to explore sexual expression which included persons living with dementia living in nursing homes and to gain valuable insights to their experiences of sexual expression. Practically, this study generates new principles for how nurses can provide better person-centred care for persons living with dementia. Academically, this research adds to existing research that challenges the BPSD model and its underpinning ideas and reframes sexual expression as sensuous-sexual expression.
Key words: Sexual expression; Persons living with dementia; Person-centredness; Sensuousness; Existential phenomenology; Participatory principles||en