a publication of the sexuality and aging consortium at widener university

Training of Trainers Impacts Professionals and Older Adults

The first Consortium-sponsored Training of Trainers on sexuality and aging was a huge success, attracting nearly 50 professionals from the US and Canada.  Co-sponsored by Kendal Outreach and the Widener University School of Social Work, the event was the first training to bring  together sexuality education and counseling professionals with administrators and staff working in long term care. A number of Widener University graduate students also attended.

One of the high points of the training was the afternoon presentation by Robin Dessel from the Hebrew Home at Riverdale. Dessel spoke to the need for institutions to create policies that protect the rights of their residents, saying, “We need to break out of the institutional and ageist box and framework. What becomes of our long list of inalienable rights as we age? Our sexual rights? Older adults know what their needs and rights are; the institutions need to catch up.”

The training also included professional development presentations by several Consortium members including Peggy Brick, Ashley Mader, Travis Ingersoll, Robin Goldberg-Glen and Karen Hicks.  The topics included: the need for professionals to increase their own comfort discussing sexualty; tips for addressing the needs of gay and lesbian residents; improving staff attitudes toward resident sexuality; training tips for long term care staff; and working with residents who have dementia and mental illness.

A mid-day treat on Day 2 of the training was an interactive lesson in hand massage, taught by Peggy Draegert, a Kendal Continuing Care Retirement Community resident who leads a resident-to-resident hand massage program.

Videos, discussions, small group work, networking, and an after-hours Consortium member gathering all focussed on helping professionals learn skills, gain knowledge, and get inspired in their work related to sexuality and aging.

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