Love has no age limit: Sexual Rights Charter helps to fill training gap to tackle age discrimination in sex and relationships in care homes

New training designed to break down barriers and tackle discrimination older adults can face around sex and relationships is set to be rolled out in care homes across ߲ݴý, thanks to the University of ߲ݴý’s Sexual Rights Charter.

Pete McKee illustration showing man and woman playing footsy at the breakfast table, copyright Pete McKee
  • The UK’s first Sexual Rights Charter, created by researchers at the University’s Healthy Lifespan Institute in collaboration with Age-friendly ߲ݴý, was launched to help tackle the silence around the sex lives of older adults 

  • In partnership with ߲ݴý City Council, the charter is now being used to co-design, develop and roll-out training to over 60 care homes across the wider city region

  • Research has found that older adults are more likely to face discrimination when it comes to their sexual health and wellbeing, such as not having difficulties taken seriously by medical professionals

New training designed to break down barriers and tackle discrimination older adults can face around sex and relationships is set to be rolled out in care homes across ߲ݴý, thanks to the University of ߲ݴý’s Sexual Rights Charter.

The UK’s first , created by researchers at the University’s Healthy Lifespan Institute in collaboration with Age-friendly ߲ݴý, was launched in 2022 to help tackle the silence around the sex lives of older adults while improving sexual health and wellbeing. 

It’s designed to empower people to have open and frank discussions about sex so that older adults are able to get the support they need, with support services guided on how it should be provided. Research has found that older adults are more likely to face discrimination when it comes to their sexual health and wellbeing, such as not having difficulties taken seriously by medical professionals or not being able to manage their sexual expression in care homes due to a lack of privacy alongside staff attitudes.

The charter is a suite of materials designed to help health and social care professionals, service providers and the wider community develop inclusive practices and policies to ensure that people are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve, whatever their age.

Now, in partnership with ߲ݴý City Council, the charter is being used to co-design, develop and roll-out training to over 60 care homes across the wider city region. It is hoped the training will be established in care homes later in the year. 

It is just the latest recognition for the increasingly influential charter. Since its launch, it underpinned the co-design of vocational training for all nurses training to work in primary care across South Yorkshire. Designed in partnership with Primary Care Doncaster, the training has been praised by healthcare workers.

Professor Sharron Hinchliff, lead researcher on the project and Professor of Psychology and Health at the University’s School of Allied Health Professions, Nursing and Midwifery, said: “We designed the Sexual Rights Charter to be deliberately broad so as to start a conversation in lots of different sectors. 

“In adult social care, it is important to have an open culture towards sexuality so the charter helps create that. The resources we are developing will be a key step in giving care home staff the guidance and understanding they need to better support residents. We’re also exploring ways to expand the literature in terms of transgender and diverse sexual identities to make the charter even more inclusive.”

Examples of the anonymous responses attendees gave when asked if they felt they’d learnt something during the training:

- “It raised my awareness of the issues encountered and how to create a safe environment to open a conversation.”

- “I feel more knowledgeable about what can cause sexual problems. It was good to see the research and what people have said about healthcare professionals -  and it’s made me realise we should talk about it.”

- “It has given me confidence in understanding what problems are and why - and how to approach it with patients, and where to signpost.” 

The charter’s impact goes beyond South Yorkshire, even receiving global attention when it was featured in the landmark UN Decade of Healthy Ageing report.

Councillor Angela Argenzio, Chair of the Adult Health and Social Care Policy Committee at ߲ݴý City Council, said: “Our Quality and Performance Team have been working collaboratively with the University of ߲ݴý for over a year to support and develop the care home workforce and to better understand the sexual rights of older adults.

“Our communities and the people within them are ߲ݴý’s greatest asset and it is the council’s aim to help more people live long and fulfilling lives. This piece of work will help older adults living in care homes across the city and region to live the lives they want to, and this is great to see.”

Designed by Professor Hinchliff, and developed with a team from the University of ߲ݴý and Age-friendly ߲ݴý, the charter was created as a result of extensive consultation with the public, professionals, and organisations in ߲ݴý.  It was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council’s Impact Accelerator Award and Age-friendly ߲ݴý. 

For more information about how to use the Charter, and to access all the Charter documents, visit  


Centres of excellence

The University's cross-faculty research centres harness our interdisciplinary expertise to solve the world's most pressing challenges.