The CQC has called for a culture of openness to protect people from sexual harm after publishing a report documenting almost 1,000 allegations of sexual assault.
The report, Promoting sexual safety through empowerment, shows the CQC received 661 notifications of 899 sexual incidents or alleged sexual incidents in adult social care services between 1 March and 31 May 2018.
Kate Terroni, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the Care Quality Commission, said: “While we are aware that sexual incidents in care services are not common, we know from speaking to those affected that the impact and consequences can be life-changing. Their message to us is that more needs to be done to prevent sexual abuse happening.”
Almost half (48%) of the incidents were categorised as sexual assault allegations with 11% classified as indecent exposure and nudity. Sixteen percent of allegations were made against staff or visiting workers, with 5% detailing cases of consensual sex.
Veronica Gray, Deputy CEO of Action on Elder Abuse, said: “We at Action on Elder Abuse very much welcome the CQC even looking at the issue of sexual safety, and we wholeheartedly support their call to initiate an open culture in adult social services around sex and sexuality. It is critical that this issue – so often hidden from view – is brought out into the open.
“However, while we endorse the CQC’s message of supporting people in expressing their sexuality whilst in care, more needs to be done to protect those most vulnerable to sexual abuse. The first priority of adult social services must be the safety and wellbeing of those in their care.”
Nadra Ahmed OBE, executive chair of the National Care Association, said: “All care services are multifaceted and so highlighting this is an important reminder of what can at times be seen as a taboo subject. Individuals in our care have the right to live life to their full potential whilst embracing a supported lifestyle with their peers.
“We hope these guidelines will be used to train care staff in a way that they can feel comfortable and confident to support their service users. Clearly, it is important that both providers and the CQC are working to common aims and objectives in the best interest of those we serve.”
Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, added: “We welcome CQC’s attitude towards sexual abuse, it simply should not be tolerated. It is, however, high time for a conversation to be had about allowing people in receipt of care to have the relationships that they choose.
“Care England will be seeking an on-going dialogue with CQC to ensure that the recommendations within the report can come to fruition and how best our members, care providers, can develop ways of initiating open conversations where people are supported to express their sexuality.”