Supporting personal relationships

Everyone has the right to have personal relationships including people who access care and support who might have a physical or learning disability and Skills for Care in partnership with the Care Quality Commission, have updated its workforce guidance on supporting personal relationships.

Adult social care workers need to have the right values, skills and knowledge to support the people they work with to have positive personal relationships, and training is a vital part of this.

Our guidance will help employers think about what workers need to know and understand about personal relationships, and how they can create a workforce development programme for their organisation. 


    ⇨ Download our 'Supporting personal relationships' guide

Supporting people who need care and support to have meaningful relationships


Information video 

Watch this short information video that explains the purpose of this guidance and why it’s important.

Speaker: Jim Thomas - Program Head for Workforce Innovation at Skills for Care


Podcast - Sexual safety through empowerment publication

Skills for Care has taken part in a podcast covering sexual safety through empowerment publication with CQC.

Listen to the podcast


Relationships are an important part of everyone’s life and they can bring happiness, fulfilment and a greater sense of choice and control to the lives of people with learning disabilities.

Oonagh Smyth, CEO at Skills for Care said:

“This updated guidance is very important. Personal relationships are a big part of people’s lives. This guidance and the work we are doing with CQC and partners will be so important for everyone.”


Kate Terroni, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said: 

“An open culture is crucial for allowing people to express sexuality and promote healthy sexual relationships in care, as well as helping to spot where there may be risks of abuse. One of the key things CQC found in our sexual safety guidance which we published earlier this year was that people must be empowered to speak about relationships and sexuality, in order for them to articulate their needs and feel valued.


While we are aware that sexual incidents in services are not common, we know from speaking to those affected that the impact and consequences can be life-changing. It is not good enough to put this issue in a 'too difficult to discuss' box. It is particularly because these topics are sensitive and complex that they should not be ignored.”

Malcolm Mitchell at The Avenues Group who introduced regular training around personal relationships said:

“Personal relationships are part of many peoples’ lives and everyone should have the opportunity to develop these relationships if they choose to.

Providing support to people around personal relationships is a key part of a person-centred approach; it’s about people making their own choices about what they want from life, and offering support which allows them to live out these choices safely.”

Families and care workers can’t make any decisions that go against that of an adult who accesses care and support, except where they lack capacity and this has been tested using the Mental Capacity Act.

However some people might need help and guidance in relation to their personal relationships, and all care workers need to understand how they can support people who need care and support, to have positive and informed personal relationships. 

Learning and development is important to ensure care workers know how to do this. 

It’s applicable to people working with:

  • older adults
  • people with learning disabilities
  • autistic people
  • people with physical disabilities.

It will help employers think about what workers need to know and understand about personal relationships, and how they can create a workforce development program for their organisation. 

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We have lots of practical resources and guidance to ensure you and your staff have the right values, skills and knowledge to provide high quality care and support, including for people with 

We also have guidance to support you with safeguarding in your organisation.