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Further Information : Values workshop

Training exercise on including sexuality in provision of care

This is an exercise for governors/management/staff, to help them see clearly that sexual expression should be part of holistic care, and not censored. It takes about half an hour and is best done in a group of around 20 people. All you need are some Post-it Notes.

Divide into pairs or threes/fours, preferably pairing participants with others whom they don’t know well. Give each pair/group several Post-it Notes, a time period of about 2-3 minutes, and an instruction to write the very first things each participant heard about sex when growing up. These might include phrases such as:

  • nice girls don’t sleep around
  • no sex before marriage
  • don’t believe everything you hear
  • if you masturbate, you’ll go blind

Then put the Post-Its on the wall and ask the participants to divide the statements into facts, values/beliefs or myths. Then group the Post-Its accordingly.

Then ask participants the following questions:

  • What is the difference between a fact, a myth and a value/belief?
  • Why are values at work needed? (because they are important to the way we treat others at work)
  • What messages do you imagine your patients/clients received when they were growing up?
  • How easy is it for people to find ways to decide that the “facts” they heard were actually only values, during their growing up process?
  • For each value, how would you feel if you had to live by that value — such as “No Sex Before Marriage”. Could you?

 

This can be what we inflict on patients and clients when we inflict our values on them.

That is why we should not bring such values to work.

As a result of this discussion, you can point out what unfortunate values, beliefs, demands and restrictions can be inflicted on patients and clients – and the reasons why such values should not be brought into work.

You can also ask if realising this has made an impact on participants and whether policies in the workplace can be amended as a result.

If you need more basis for argument, you can point out the following ways in which enabling sexual expression can make life better for everyone in the participants’ practice:

• After the human drive for survival, sexuality is the next most powerful drive. It is an essential part of being human and when it is supressed, bad things may happen, such as unacceptable behaviour, anger, ill health, both physical and mental.

• Sexual expression has many positive effects. Most importantly to health and social care professionals, it lowers the rate of inappropriate behaviour, aggression, eating disorders,and depression. It often means that a client needs fewer pain killers.

• If their sexual needs are met, clients may gain in confidence and well-being.