University of Edinburgh

Sex Education; meeting the curricular challenges for young people with multiple disabilities, including sensory impairments

Tuesday 28 February 2006

Mary Foster

Sense Policy: Sexuality and Relationships

(Version 4 DRAFT) Areas covered.


Policy Statements

Good Practice  - Areas to consider

  • Communication and sensory impairment
  • Issues of Consent
  • Vulnerable Adults

Making good decisions

  • Individual needs
  • Decision Making Framework
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Documentation
  • Monitoring and review
  • Risk Taking and Management

Staff Support and Training

  • Support and supervision
  • Training

Common Issues

  • Personal health and sex education
  • Relationships
  • Sexual/Personal Health and Hygiene
  • Masturbation
  • Sexual Relationships
  • Pornography
  • Sex Aids


MF Sense West

CONFIDENTIAL MFT&C Sense West. July/02 Draft2
Personal Relationships and Sexuality.
Please refer to the SENSE Policy on Sexuality & Relationships. (S&R)



These Guidelines were written by:

Initial statement:
Include sensory impairments, communication abilities, interests/motivation, as expressed by the individual or perceived by advocate/carer/key staff.

Information may include the person's understanding in this area, previous work undertaken, management guidelines and their impact. 

This person's needs should be set in the wider context of their personal and social development. 'Sex in Context' (stored in the Education Centre or with Mary Foster) is a useful resource and can be used as a planning tool. (See attached example – Part one Page 66. Handout 4b. A Personal and Social Development Programme – Model 2).

Work that comes into the category of Physical/Sexual Development and Sexual Activity will be addressed sensitively and in strict confidence. Staff will be informed on a 'need to know' basis.
Where work of this nature is undertaken, the Sense Policy on PR&S must be strictly adhered to.

Good practice guidelines when working in this sensitive area with vulnerable people who may be at risk of abuse:
Any plan to intervene to support an individual’s sexual development and activity should be preceded by the following:
(Record completed assessments or what needs to be done).

  • Communication: had the person indicated in some way that they needed intervention?
  • Details of assessments that had been undertaken that indicated a need for intervention and support in this area. Include Multi-disciplinary assessments that indicate the individual plan is an appropriate course of action.
  • Details of investigations that have been undertaken to rule out any physical causes of any sexual behaviour that causes concern.
  • Records of discussions with the person's advocate.
  • Written risk assessment that embrace ethical and human rights implications, medical grounds and health issues.

Please refer to Sense Policy: Personal Relationships and Sexuality.

People to involve in the Personal Planning Group:

  • The person themselves whenever possible:
  • The 'designated' person from the region: Education/Deafblind Consultant           
  • The manager of the service:
  • Someone who knows the individual well:

This group may also involve:

  • Family/care/advocate:
  • Purchaser representative:
  • Other key staff:
  • Outside advisor/specialist:

Current Needs:
Statement about the person’s expressed needs or perceived needs by those who know them well.

Concerns/Current Behaviours:
This section may need to include a precise description of the behaviour; eg; What? When? How often? How is it currently managed?
(Observation/Baseline recording using appropriate recording and monitoring procedures)

For people with complex needs, the planning process should include a discussion with those who know the person well, about how the person receives information (what mode/approach works best) and how they express themselves. Include observed communicative behaviours/expressive communication. The attached example from 'Sex in Context' will support this process. (Part 1. Page 97 Handout 116).

Identify targets through discussion, that are based on individual needs: 

Management Guidelines:
Identify how the support/teaching will be delivered.
It may be appropriate to consult the Regional Behaviour Specialist.

To ensure consistency, the service manager will need to share guidelines with members of the staff team who ‘need to know’. (If they have not been involved at the planning stage).

Teaching/direct support:
Any teaching sessions involving support around sexual activity must be discreet, observed and documented, involving one consistent member of staff (or person from another agency) and one observer.  It may not be appropriate or advisable for a staff member who has daily/regular contact with the individual to deliver the teaching.

Please adhere closely to the Sense Policy on SEXUALITY & RELATIONSHIPS.

ALL  DISCREET TEACHING CONNECTED TO A PERSON’S SEXUAL ACTIVITY IS CURRENTLY SUSPENDED (SEXUAL OFFENCES ACT 2003). Where a 'duty to care' is in conflict with this, all individual support plans must be countersigned by the Director of Children’s and Adult’s Services.


Direct support provided by:


Specific objectives for any discreet work:

Timescales: Identify when direct support/teaching will take place:

Evaluation and Review of Intervention:

Identify date:

Who should attend:

Revisit targets to establish whether progress has been made.

Plans for further intervention and support:

MFT&C Sense West July/2002 Draft2