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Personal budgets sex survey exposes 'no rules'


The overwhelming majority of councils have no rules on whether people receiving personal social care budgets can use some of that funding to buy sexual services, it emerged over the weekend.

Research from The Outsiders and TLC Trusts - both groups that campaign for the rights of people with disabilities - found that while most councils refused to “condone” the use of funding to pay for such services, managers or social workers were granted discretion to deal with such requests.

The Sunday Telegraph, which obtained the survey, said 97% of 121 councils that responded to the charities’ survey had no formal policy on service users’ requests to spend their budgets on sex services, with decisions delegated to staff.

Freedom of Information Act responses given to the charities found four councils “condoning” the use of personal budget funding for disabled service users to buy sex.

The paper cited one social worker at an unnamed council who confirmed that a 21-year-old service-user with learning disabilities was planning a trip to Amsterdam for sex.

Another care worker said staff at her council had been told that trips to lap dancing clubs could be funded, if it could be argued that it would help the “mental and physical wellbeing” of clients.

The paper quoted Belinda Schwer, a legal consultant who advises councils, saying many local authorities agreed support plans for clients which did not specify how funds would be used, once they passed out of their hands.

“From what I have seen, at least one quarter of local authorities are doing support plans which only state what outcome should be achieved – not which services are being employed,” she said.


Readers' comments (5)

  • Steve Williams

    Whoahhh... Stop right there Nursing Times. You have no right!

    Social Services policy and budget matters concerning people with Learning Disabilities living in the community are not the purview of the NHS, nor under the auspices of the Nursing Profession – we divested that responsibility three decades ago - so why are you sticking your beaks in now?

    It's as crazy a concept as “The World Of Woodworking” magazine sticking their noses into a debate about treatment outcomes.

    I actually worked for South and South West London Social Services LD homes, as a Grade 5, back in the 90' the time when they were preparing to shut down Normansfield Hospital and move the patients out into the community.

    Now if you don't know the history of Normansfield or John Haydon Langdon-Down, or even Severalls Hospital in Colchester, then I suggest that you are starting from a position of severe ignorance.

    The people who were 'decanted' from that hospital had lived all their lives in it and subsequently suffered from a condition (originally defined by Dr Russell Barton - the Medical Superintendent of my training hospital) as institutional-neurosis...

    Wolf Wolfensberger Social Role Valorization
    A Brilliant man. I went to his lecture when they were finally closing down Normansfield. He spoke of the “Volkenshau” and was attacked. I talked to him afterwards and he said I was “most insightful”
    Make of it what you will – I was there as an active particpant.

    Before we go much further... another follower from Dr Russell Barton

    John O.Brien

    Yes, are you getting my drift? It is a big step away from what regular RNs involved in A&E, General, or even Psych would recognise as “nursing” and in fact it's not – it's a whole different branch of caring that's, nowadays, best left out of the control of nursing.

    Do I condone Local Councils (e.g. Social Services) paying for disabled to go and visit a prostitute?


    Let us turn it around for a minute. Regardless of your gender, try to imagine yourself in this situation...

    It is 1975. You are an attractive eloquent 25 year old young man. Totally physically fit with abs but you have cerebral palsy. Your speech is not affected, nor are any of your cognitive abilities – in fact you just completed a degree at the local university (funded by Essex County Council) – but your arms and legs don't obey your brain.

    In fact you are confined to a wheelchair. Your parents sent you (at an early age) to a 'group home' institution run by “The Spastics Society” in Thaxted, Essex.

    You are totally continent but every time you need to have a wizz or a pooh you have to call for an aide – who willingly transfers you from wheelchair to toilet and after you have pooped he wipes your bottom.

    One day you have to go through the same routine. You are feeling a bit depressed about this ritual humiliation. The aide that helps you is younger than you. While he is wiping your arse you say “My god this is so humiliating – I wish my mother had decided to have an abortion.” The aide says “Me too!” You both laugh.

    Next, you ask the aide “You are married what's sex is like?”


    He says (pointing down below his belt) “a bit like that.”

    You say “I don't even know how that feels, don't you understand I can't even grab hold of my own dick!”


    Just imagine that you,are disabled or able bodied but impaired and living in care or otherwise, and for some TOTALLY legal reason, were being given a Sococial Services grant for $7,000. What would you spend it on? Chocolate bars, a car, booze, a new wardrobe, a new flat, a holiday, a haircut, invest it....

    The point is that it whatever money you are given is legally YOURS and you do with it what you want. The money has been given to you to do as you wish – if you are a 25 year-old paraplegic man confined to a wheelchair with normal sexual-drives that he's only dreamt of – what would you do?

    Okay, if you still don't get it let us fry this down to the basics. Do people who are incarcerated in long-term institutions (even Local Authority ones) deserve to be deprived of their basic human needs?

    Tonight, you'll probably go back and have sex with the better partner, or a gin and a moan. Some of you may go and have sex with yourselves and moan, Like me you might just be alone with yourself and moan and moan and moan....

    The point is that WE as nurses (yes we) have a CHOICE to change our circumstances.... because we have money, mobility, good looks, tits, nice arses , good manners, wardrobe whatever – others DO NOT!

    I really don't have any moral misgivings about what happened in 1976 – it was another world back then. It taught me a lot about respecting the value of human life – even before I became a Student Nurse in 77.

    Actually I was just about to bull-cream you with the load of professors I had been taught by and then my ego reined it in... It's not about me...

    It's about those people with difficulties and can YOU wrap your mind around their situation?
    Go and defend their rights – it does not need to be said twice!

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  • Top post Steve, whilst I don't pretend to understand the full background that you described, I was a mental health nurse for twenty five years and I know what you mean about the way that holism is not truly recognised, and that few people if any are capable of total empathy. You are also absolutely correct to criticise NT for intruding on this subject - especially as they have a track record for under reporting on most issues connected to mental health and learning disability nursing.

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  • While I entirely agree with the comments made regarding the rights of those with physical or mental disabilities, I also support the right of NT to report such matters to its readership. For that is what they have done; no comments - salacious or otherwise, no suggestions as to whether this is appropriate or inappropriate. Just a simple and straightforwad reporting of the situation. That is what profesiional media are there for - to provide us with information. That is what they have done - no more and no less. It is up to us what we wish to make of it.

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  • Steve Williams

    Susan Holmes - that's palpable Bull-crap and you and your handlers know it.

    Go back to your editors and the owners of your magazine and tell them that real nurses can spot a sock-puppet a mile off.

    NT has integrity? You posted this on your OWN site and expected us to swallow it.

    You are joking eh?

    Why don't you just fess up and admit you dropped a bollock on this one loveys?

    Christ you leeches make me sick.

    You are beyond words!

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  • Fab post Steve (the long one). I am an LD nurse and I strongly believe that adults with a learning disability have the same rights as any human to a sexual life. They face enough challenges, without others making decisions about how they spend THEIR money. Unfortunately (for them) their sexual lives are often laid bare and discussed by all! Most people dont have to endure their rooms being checked for porn, the judgements about the use of porn, or about the use of sex workers, simply because most people do it quietly and privately without their privacy being trampled all over.
    I mustn't get on my soapbox and start ranting.. eek

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