Skills for Care

People supported by the National Autistic Society share how relationship training has helped them

31 Mar 2023

5 min read

Skills for Care

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We spoke to three people supported by the National Autistic Society (NAS) about how the personal and sexual relationships training offered by the organisation has helped them, and why it’s important for care workers too.

Alison* lives at a supported living residence run by NAS, where she’s lived for almost four years. The sex and relationships training that NAS offers first began after they had supported Alison through a difficult relationship. At this time, it was deemed that Alison didn’t have the capacity to make decisions about relationships, but with appropriate training this could change. This is why NAS decided to start running regular sessions each week for the people they support focused on sexuality and personal relationships.

After taking part in this training the decision that Alison didn’t have the capacity for a relationship has now been reversed.

This has been very positive for Alison and means that she has now been able to be in a relationship with fellow resident, Joe*.

Joe also attends the regular sex and relationships training at NAS. Attending this training means that Alison and Joe can both understand what’s important in a healthy relationship, and it means they both have the capacity to make decisions around the relationship. For example, this means they’re able to visit each other’s flats which wouldn’t have been the case without the training.

The training NAS offers isn’t just for the people who they support, it’s also for the staff too. Sue Slevin, Service Manager at NAS’ Margaret House says that staff have also learned a lot from the training, and it’s helped staff to gain a greater understanding of why sexual and romantic relationships are important to the people who they support. It also ensures care workers understand what a healthy relationship is and can spot any signs of an unhealthy relationship. Training also means staff are up-to-speed on advising around sexual health measures, and consent.

Training for both staff and the people they support means that individuals and their care workers can all feel comfortable having open conversations about sex and relationships, which Alison and Joe said is really important.

Ross* also lives in one of NAS’ supported living residences. He says it’s important that care workers are skilled and confident in supporting people with their sexuality and relationships because it’s an important part of life.

Ross also told us that when he had a personal health issue, he felt comfortable talking to a member of staff about it, and that it’s important for staff to be approachable about these issues.

Ross told us that he’s hoping to get into a relationship in the future and that it would be important that staff had the knowledge and the confidence to be able to talk to him about this. He thinks it’s imperative that staff are trained up in this area.

Ross has been undertaking the sex and relationships training offered by NAS and he says it’s provided him with information around topics including sexual health, going on dates and staying safe – including online. He says he feels more confident now about starting a relationship.

He thinks this training is important because while he was given sex education at school when he was younger he found this moved too fast, but the training offered at NAS can more tailored to how he likes to receive information.


Skills for Care has published new training materials to support care workers in supporting people with their personal and sexual relationships. View the training.

*Names changed

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