OMNIway explores sexuality, safety in LTC

Series to unpack issues including rights, risks and regulations

December 11, 2013 — Natalie Hamilton 

In one long-term care home, romantic sparks fly between a man and a woman who live in the same residence.

The man is married to another woman.

In another long-term care home, a man with dementia inadvertently enters the wrong room and starts going through personal belongings.

Men and women living together, coupled with cognitive impairment, can present a host of moral, ethical, safety and security issues.

The OMNIway is taking a closer look at sexuality and safety in long-term care. Through a series of stories, interviews and videos, Axiom News will explore the rights, risks and regulations related to the issue of sexuality and safety.

We’ll provide a glimpse into the realities of people of the opposite sex living together and their inclination to maintain or find new relationships. We’ll look at how those relationships help them maintain the quality of life similar to couples residing elsewhere. The OMNIway will look into the home’s role when a relationship is mutual.

We’ll also explore what happens when the desire is one-sided or an act is triggered by confusion and how OMNI intervenes to keep residents safe.

We’ll look at the supportive measures in place to prevent people with dementia from wandering and how to support those who are confused, while protecting their dignity and maintaining a safe environment for all people who reside in the home.

“Safety and security is our No. 1 priority,” OMNI president and CEO Patrick McCarthy tells the OMNIway.

Confusion and wandering as a result of cognitive impairment can occur in long-term care homes and “it’s a behaviour we need to monitor and to take into account when we design and carry out our plan of care for each resident,” McCarthy says.

It’s an issue that is growing as homes receive more residents with complex conditions, such as mental health and dementia-related behavioural challenges.

One of OMNI’s signature core programs is called supportive measures. The program strives to provide an individualized approach to care for residents, with or without dementia. Supportive measures strategies include one-to-one interventions to identify the causes of anxiety and agitation and put processes into place to help residents feel calm and secure in their home.

In addition to supportive measures, OMNI incorporates Behavioural Supports Ontario (BSO) into its training policies and procedures. BSO is a $40-million provincial initiative to help enhance quality of life for seniors affected by dementia and other conditions that cause agitation.

Stay tuned to the OMNIway for stories unpacking these issues.

If you have feedback on this article or a story idea to share, please e-mail natalie(at)axiomnews.ca or call Axiom News at 800-294-0051.