Competency development for disability services staff

Now that I’m back in Sweden I’m often asked to give talks and workshops about my research as part of competency development for staff in disability services. This time it was at a yearly conference on LSS, the disability services law, and I was very happy about them wanting to include sexuality perspectives (the above picture shows me on stage, several rows of audience in the foreground, and my power point in the background). A talk I especially enjoyed was about the current political situation around LSS, with notable cutbacks in recent years as well as court rulings leading to limitations in eligibility for services and re-interpretations by the Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan) on what constitutes eligibility criteria (for more information on this topic see this excellent research paper).

My talk took its starting point in my research on the various policy- and practice approaches to sexual support, with suggestions on how to develop Swedish disability services. Since there is a vacuum in Swedish disability policy and regulations around sexual health and sexual support issues, I gave examples of, for instance, the New South Wales (NSW) Disability Inclusion Act, which mentions sexual rights as a general principle, and the Family and Community Services guidelines for disability services. But I also showed previous projects and materials that various Swedish projects had developed in different places around the country, to calm staff and managers that they do not need to invent the wheel. There are a lot of great examples, albeit mostly aimed at people with intellectual impairments, but nonetheless useful as a starting point for developing own policies and tools for practice (see Jag har lust, forum Skill, Sex i rörelse, Sex för alla, En hemlighet känd av många, Sexuality policy for disability services in the city of Malmö).

After my talk several attendees approached me to ask if I can come to their municipalities and share this knowledge among their colleagues, and my overall impression was that there is a great lack in discussing and working with these issues. I thought more would have happened since my PhD came out three years ago! The struggle continues…