Student lifts lid on sex in aged care

Jessica CuthbertAlbany Advertiser
Edith Cowan University Psychology student Marie Smith.
Camera IconEdith Cowan University Psychology student Marie Smith. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

It is a touchy subject, but Albany psychology student Marie Smith wants to get up close and personal with the sexual behaviour of residents in aged care facilities.

Edith Cowan University’s Ms Smith has made the taboo topic the focus of her honours thesis — and she is calling for Great Southern carers to open up about their experiences in aged care.

Ms Smith said she wanted the carers, who would remain anonymous, to discuss the difficulties they might encounter when dealing with residents’ sexual behaviours and the support available to them.

“It’s an interesting research topic,” she said. “In nursing homes there is not a lot of resources or knowledge about sexual behaviours. There is some research but it’s mainly conducted with either residents or managers, so the point of my study is to look at the perspectives of the carers.”

Get in front of tomorrow's news for FREE

Journalism for the curious Australian across politics, business, culture and opinion.


Ms Smith said she wanted to gain an understanding of sexual behaviour and sexual patterns within aged care facilities. “It is so broad, it could be a patient reading 50 Shades of Grey, sexual activity between residents, or sexual comments — it’s really open to everything,” she said.

“Years ago I worked in nursing homes and it was something that I thought about.

“Years later, I was looking through a range of different topics and I am quite interested in sexuality, so this seemed like a good fit.”

There would be no right or wrong answers in her research, Ms Smith said.

“It’s such a taboo topic but it doesn’t need to be. People often think old people don’t have sex but they do — it happens. Just because someone turns 70 it doesn’t mean the switch turns off,” she said.

A summary of Ms Smith’s findings will be made available upon request in early November.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails