Scenario 8: Grace

John and Marjorie are a middle-aged married couple who have recently supported Marjorie’s mother, Grace, aged 82, as she moved into a care home. Marjorie’s father died ten years ago and over that time Grace has slowly deteriorated both in health and in her ability to live independently. Grace has dementia.

One day, care staff in the home inform John and Marjorie that they believe Grace is having a sexual relationship with a male resident. Both Grace and the other resident have issues relating to their mental health.

On one occasion a member of staff notices Grace pushing the male resident away and saying “Who are you? Get away from me.” However, when the staff member approaches Grace begins to hold hands with the male resident and they seem to be happy with one another again.

John and Marjorie are extremely distressed by this, and Marjorie in particular feels that it is her responsibility on behalf of her late father to make sure that her mother behaves in an appropriate manner. She feels that she simply cannot know what she is doing. She is particularly upset to have arrived one afternoon and to have witnessed her mother kissing the man.

They tell the staff that they would prefer it if Grace was moved to another unit within the care home and that if staff witness any contact with the male resident they should intervene as a matter of priority.

The staff appreciate the concerns of the family and agree to monitor the couple closely and restrict the amount of time the two residents spent alone together. As they are increasingly separated Grace and the male resident become irritated that they are not seeing each other and begin to blame one another.

After repeated requests from John and Marjorie, the staff agree to keep the two apart resulting in the male resident becoming aggressive and abusive towards the staff.