What is Supported Loving?
For people with learning disabilities finding love is often more than just chemistry – it can come down to getting the right support from your staff.
Supported Loving is a human rights-based campaign, with associated network meetings, hosted by Choice Support. We believe people with learning disabilities and/or autism should be able to enjoy the same sexual and romantic freedoms as everyone else.
Supported Loving is run by Dr Claire Bates, who works for Choice Support, and is an honorary research associate at the University of Kent’s Tizard Centre.
Choice Support publishes Supported Loving blogs, news and resources.
Supported Loving started by highlighting the importance of good support for people with autism/learning disabilities to form and maintain close relationships. However, research has shown that we need to do more than highlight good practice. We want to make changes to help make love a reality for everyone. Supported Loving’s goals are to ensure that:
- sexuality and relationships are a mandatory focus in Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspections in the Key Lines of Enquiry
- training on sexuality and relationships is provided to all social care staff
- people with learning disabilities and/or autism are aware of their sexual rights.
Supported Loving is not a formal membership organisation. Anyone can take part, it is free. However, we expect ‘members’ to support Supported Loving’s human rights-based approach and goals.
Dr Claire Bates set up Supported Loving in 2017, as a response to her PhD exploring relationships for adults with learning disabilities. She found that relationships were important to people, but often they relied on staff support to start and continue. Claire continues to research relationships and sexuality, identifying the barriers many people with learning disabilities and/or autism face in this area.
Supported Loving isn’t about glib answers to simple issues – it’s about having an open discussion about how to provide good support in complex situations.