Eastbourne care home under investigation over disabled residents using prostitutes and strippers

Eastbourne care home put under investigation for allowing disabled residents to use prostitutes and strippers 'so they can fulfill their primeval needs' Staff at home in Eastbourne, Sussex would call prostitutes for residentsLeft sex workers alone with disabled people and put red sock on the door so they weren't disturbedManagers defend policy as it 'protects residents' human rights'

By
Hugo Gye

PUBLISHED:

14:16 GMT, 28 January 2013

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UPDATED:

15:02 GMT, 28 January 2013

A care home has admitted to calling prostitutes for disabled residents who are otherwise unable to have sex.

The home is now under investigation by the local council over concerns the bizarre set-up could place vulnerable residents at risk of being exploited.

Staff defended the policy as the best way to satisfy the 'primeval needs' of disabled people, and claimed that it prevented sexually frustrated residents from groping staff.

They also revealed how when prostitutes visited the home they would be left alone with residents, and staff would put a red sock on the door handle so they were not disturbed.

Controversy: Chaseley nursing home is being investigated after allowing residents to see prostitutes

Controversy: Chaseley nursing home is being investigated after allowing residents to see prostitutes

Employees at Chaseley, a nursing home caring for 55 people in Eastbourne, Sussex, would call prostitutes and order sessions with residents of the home who were too disabled to operate a telephone themselves.

Helena Barrow, the home's former manager, said: 'If someone asked, we would often call in a professional, someone trained to do that. It's known as the resident's “special visit”.

'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. If we refused, we would not be delivering a holistic level of care.'

She said workers would hold the phone to the ear of the disabled person so he could make the phone call himself, then welcome the prostitute into the building and escort her to the resident's room.

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.

Residents were themselves responsible for paying the sex workers.

On one occasion, local strippers were invited into the home to perform a 'special show' for residents.

Topical: The issue of sex surrogacy has come under the spotlight thanks to Hollywood film The Sessions, starring Helen Hunt, left, and John Hawkes, right

Topical: The issue of sex surrogacy has come under the spotlight thanks to Hollywood film The Sessions, starring Helen Hunt, left, and John Hawkes, right

Sue Wyatt, the home's current manager, confirmed that residents are welcome to receive visits from prostitutes, but said that staff no longer phone on their behalf.

She said a 'third party consultant' was now used to contact the sex workers – and insisted the disabled guests 'have needs' which the hookers help meet.

'We are there to help,' she said. 'We respect our residents as individuals so that's why we help this to happen.'

Chaseley is a former military nursing home which now houses a mix of residents funded by private arrangements or by social services.

A spokesman for East Sussex County Council said the local authority had been unaware of Chaseley's policy of inviting prostitutes on site and 'did not welcome' the idea.

He said: 'We will examine our concerns through the Pan-Sussex Multi-Agency Policy and Procedures for Safeguarding Adults at Risk.

'This has the potential to place vulnerable East Sussex residents at risk of exploitation and abuse.'

One prostitute described the experience of visiting care homes in Sussex, which she does 'at least once a month'.

'The staff know what is happening, they lead us to the room – it's embarrassing really,' she said.

'It's like, you know why I'm here, I know why I'm here. Obviously every client has the same colour money and the job isn't done for enjoyment sake.'

Prostitution is not in itself illegal, though soliciting sex and advertising sex work are both against the law.

The controversial practice of 'sex surrogacy' has been brought to prominence due to a new Hollywood film, The Sessions, which dramatises the true story of a paralysed poet who hired a therapist to help him lose his virginity.

Some health workers believe that the use of prostitutes is essential to help disabled people live fulfilled lives.

Denise Banks, director of social care provision at Chailey Heritage Foundation, said: 'The work they [Chaseley] 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 other experts warn that allowing prostitutes who have not undergone background checks access to disabled people could be dangerous.

'There's always an issue of risk which is for local authorities and health authorities to look into,' said Nick Tapp, chief executive of East Sussex Disability Association.

'How do you know the sex workers are not carrying infections There are certainly safety issues there.'