Investigation launched into prostitutes at a care home

An investigation has been launched after a care home ordered prostitutes for its disabled residents, claiming the therapeutic visits were fulfilling basic levels of care.

Carers at Chaseley, in Eastbourne, East Sussex, which caters for 55 residents with physical disabilities, helped organise what were described as “special visits”.

They defended the use of “sex surrogates” because many physically and mentally disabled people had no other sexual outlet and could become frustrated.

The Chaseley trust deny procuring prostitutes for their residents

The local council said it “did not welcome” the idea as it had the potential to put “vulnerable residents at risk of exploitation and abuse”.

A spokesperson added: “We plan to examine this under the multi-agency East Sussex safeguarding procedures to ensure the safety and well-being of vulnerable people.”

The practice was disclosed by Helena Barrow, a former manager at Chaseley, who spoke of the frustration experienced by some residents.

“Most of the time, these are people who feel frustrated by a need they cannot fulfil,” she said.

“If you have a resident who is groping staff, one way of resolving that problem is to get a sex worker in who is trained to deal with that situation.

“But most of the time, these are people who feel frustrated by a primeval need they cannot fulfil.

“So we would help them with the phone, dial the number, or use the computer to contact someone who could help.

“So, if someone asked, we would often call in a professional. It’s known as the resident’s ‘special visit’. If we refused, we would not be delivering a holistic level of care.”

It is not illegal for the sex workers to “sexually enable” disabled people, she pointed out.

Sue Wyatt, Chaseley’s current manager, said a third party was used to contact the sex workers. “We use a private consultant who arranges everything

“They are an independent person who works in the home. People have needs, so sometimes we might need to set up a room in a certain way.

“We are there to help. We respect our residents as individuals so that’s why we help this to happen.”

Mrs Barrow, who now manages another care home, said residents paid for the prostitutes, who would be escorted by a member of staff to a room where a resident was waiting.

Staff would then put a “special red sock” on the door handle to make sure the couple were not disturbed before checking on them every 15 minutes.

On one occasion, strippers were invited into the home to perform for residents.

A spokesman for the Care Quality Commission said that where a care need was identified, appropriate safeguards would need to be in place to protect against the risk of abuse.

A council spokesman refused to comment on whether they had received independent complaints surrounding the issue.

It is an ex-military nursing home which now houses a mix of residents whose places are funded by private arrangements or by social services. .

Denise Banks is director of social care provision at Chailey Heritage Foundation which has been working with the Sexual Health and Disability Allliance, a national group that campaigns for disabled people to be allowed access to sex workers.

She revealed the foundation had contacted Chaseley to help develop a policy where prostitutes could be found for residents if needed.

Mrs Banks said: “The work they are doing is certainly pleasing. If someone asked us to contact a sex worker for them, we would have to be open to that. If we resisted we would be going against the Human Rights Act.

“We would try to facilitate that somewhere else to protect that individual’s privacy and dignity. It’s a much nicer way to do it. But we need to develop a proper policy.

Dr Tuppy Owens, convenor of the Sexual Health and Disability Allliance, said: “Many disabled people are living in perpetual frustration.

“If someone wants to access a sex worker and they can’t make the phone call then they should be allowed to do that. There’s nothing illegal about it.

“What’s illegal is for disabled people to be denied their human rights.”

Other experts raised health and safety fears around allowing vulnerable people access to sex workers without proper checks.