THE College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists would welcome Scottish Care's report on older people's sexuality- this is a neglected and taboo area.

People just assume older people don't have sex or that they shouldn't be having sex. Even that is hard enough for people to accept in the first place, let alone talking about people with dementia.

Staff want to protect the vulnerable people involved, and at the same time to protect themselves from being seen to be putting residents at risk. That is completely understandable. But that is potentially missing another really important aspect which is people's right to their own sexuality and sex life.

Sometimes, with older patients, health professionals can assume it is not going to be an issue, but it is a huge issue for lots of people.

They may have a physical illness or disability – that doesn't mean it should prevent them from having sex. It is just an extra challenge. But often it is not discussed. Health professionals may think the patient is too embarrassed to raise it, but they may be subtly getting the message not to talk about this kind of thing. It really is up to the health professional to be proactive and bring it up.

It is too easy to look at this as a difficult topic and avoid it. And you can't expect care home staff to know what to do and how to manage some of the issues raised – not without proper training to broach it with clients. If care staff don't feel comfortable managing it, it should be passed on with someone who is confident to do so.

It is also important not to dismiss concerns from relatives or others about keeping someone safe. It is important to look at each case individually. Vulnerable people may need someone to advocate for them to make sure nothing abusive is taking place.

We need to allow people to express their sexuality in a way that doesn't put them or other people at risk. But from my experience as a nurse and a psychosexual and relationship therapist, this is a neglected area.

Every human being has a sexuality of some form or another - even if they are asexual. It is part of them as a whole person and the only way forward is to discuss it and involve the individual involved in that discussion.

At the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists, we want the public to be more able to talk about sexuality issues and overcome taboos. Even acknowledging that older people may want to have sex – and people with dementia too – is a big step forward.

Krystal Woodbridge is a Psychosexual and Relationship Therapist and spokeswoman for the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists