Care Quality Commission (CQC) guidance has been published, setting out how care providers should consider a range of complex issues such as people’s relationship and sexuality needs.

The new publication was developed with the support of a number of providers and public representative bodies and builds on the CQC’s quality framework, adding more detail on issues such as diversity and protecting people from harm, and is aimed at CQC inspection staff and registered providers.

The guidance addresses people’s relationships and sexuality in social care services for adults receiving personal care and support. It includes guidance on supporting people to form and maintain relationships, while also helping them to understand risks. It highlights the importance of offering an environment that is welcoming to LGBT+ people, as well as looking at how to support those with physical disabilities.

Supported Loving campaign’s Claire Bates and U-Night Group’s Sue Sharples said their organisations were consulted in the development phase of the guidance, especially in gaining the perspective of members with a learning disability.

They said: “This is a long-awaited document that will give providers clarity and direction in relation to a sensitive and complex area of need. It affirms the link between supporting opportunities for sexual expression and personal wellbeing, within a framework of care services’ regulatory responsibilities.”

CQC Acting Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care Debbie Westhead said that the best care is person-centred and in supporting relationships and sexuality there cannot be one approach that fits all.

She added: “Supporting people to build and maintain relationships in the way they want to is incredibly important, regardless of who they are or what stage of life they are at. This guidance aims to ensure providers are supporting people to form and maintain sexual relationships that meet their needs, while also helping them to understand risks.”

Relationships and Sexuality in Adult Social Care Services: Guidance for CQC Inspection Staff and Registered Adult Social Care Providers is available at

Last reviewed 13 March 2019