This policy should be used in association with the policies on Intimate Personal Care and Contact, Professional Boundaries, Bullying, Harassment and Safeguarding Service Users from Abuse or Harm. It is produced to explain the policy of this home on the implications of gender on the care provided and on care relationships. It also needs to be read in relation to the service’s equality and diversity policies.
Care can be provided and care tasks carried out in a number of gender contexts: male/female residents and male/female care workers. It is a fact that the majority of care workers are female and a minority are male in most services where personal care is a primary feature of the work.
This home always seeks from its residents their views and preferences over the gender of their day-to-day carers particularly in relation to the carrying out of intimate personal care tasks.
Residents might express preferences or show indifference to the gender of their carer and the home knows from experience that individual attitudes should never be presumed.
However, the majority of male and female residents will expect their care to be carried out by female carers and it is relatively easy to identify exceptions to this, e.g. a resident carer who only wants care from another male.
The service is committed to meeting individual preferences as its resources allow. Where it is not possible to meet residents’ strong preferences for a carer of one gender or another because of lack of suitable staffing, the situation will be carefully explained and a compromise will be sought. All discussions and decisions are recorded on the person’s care plan.
Although recognising the need to take the residents’ preferences into account the home is also mindful of its responsibilities to comply with equality and anti-discrimination legislation and will always explain to the user the limits to their preferences.
In employing care staff of both genders in line with equal opportunities policies, the home recognises that it has a duty of care to its staff as well as its residents. It recognises in line with its duty of care that it should not place them in situations where their professional integrity as male/female and abilities to work within well-defined professional boundaries are seriously put at risk.
The home recognises that both male and female carers are exposed to some common risks from their residents, eg physical aggression, but there are also gender-related risks. Female care workers are arguably more vulnerable to abuse, particularly sexual abuse, than their male colleagues. Males are arguably more vulnerable to allegations of sexual abuse; both sets of risks need to be well managed.
Once a resident makes an allegation of abuse it must be investigated in line with the homes’s safeguarding from abuse/harm procedures, irrespective of whether they turn out to be with or without foundation.
The home therefore sets out to assess and manage all possible risks to the emotional safety and professional integrity of its care workers of either gender by listing in each care plan any personal care tasks to be carried out with an assessment of each of them of any risks to individual residents and care workers serving them.
The risk assessments include the type of care needed, the environment where the care is given and any gender-related emotional hazards/dangers that could adversely influence the carrying out of the agreed tasks, which might need specific management.
Supervision and Support
The homes manager will always discuss any gender-related care issues that need to be addressed within a care plan with the care workers involved. It will always attempt to work out with the involved staff members strategies to assess and manage not only the risks but the feelings of comfort/discomfort that are inevitable in these situations.
Staff are encouraged to use ongoing support and supervision to discuss their feelings in situations where there are evident emotional risks to them.
Managers will also monitor closely and regularly review these situations to make sure that the services being provided are to the expected standards within established professional boundaries and appropriateness. They will intervene where this appears needed to safeguard the service user and/or carer.
All staff are required to read and follow this policy and related policies as part of their induction process and are provided with training on professional boundaries and gender-related care matters in line with the following Care Certificate Standards:
1. Understand your Role
2. Your Personal Development
3. Duty of Care
4. Equality and Diversity
5. Work in a Person-Centred Way
10. Safeguarding Adults.
Policy review date: _____________________________