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Bates, C; Terry, LM; Popple, K (2017)
Publisher: Emerald
Languages: English
Types: Article
Purpose: To understand some of the barriers people with learning disabilities experience with regards to relationships and the changes professionals need to make to address them. Methodology: The current paper will draw on case studies extracted from Bates et al. (in press), utilising them to illustrate a number of themes/ issues that relate to the support that people with learning disabilities received and needed from staff to develop and maintain relationships. Findings: People with learning disabilities continue to experience barriers with regards to relationships. Their rights and choices are not always respected and a climate of risk aversion persists in areas such as sexual relationships. The research highlighted the balancing act staff must engage in to ensure that they remain supportive without being controlling or overprotective of individuals in relationships. Research limitations/implications- Professional/ support provider views were not included but these could have provided an additional perspective to the issues discussed. Practical implications- An increased understanding of human rights entitlements is needed among people with learning disabilities as they need to know when their freedom is being unlawfully restricted. Sexuality and relationship training should be compulsory for support staff and cover a wider range of areas such as contraception and supporting individuals who have experienced sexual/domestic abuse in starting new relationships. Originality/value- This paper explores the barriers to relationships from the perspective of people with learning disabilities and provides practical solutions to address them.
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