Session Detail

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Tuesday, September 17, 2019  |  3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Open to Conference Attendees Only

Discussing the Unspeakable: Designing for Intimacy in Healthcare Facilities and Beyond

Dr. Fran Fisher
Clinical Sexologist, Improve Intimacy

When an individual has a disease, illness, or condition that requires inpatient treatment, the purpose of this treatment is not just to provide a technical repair – rather, the goal of treatment is to remedy the overall situation by restoring the ‘wholeness’ of the patient’s health. ‘Intimacy’, however we define that for ourselves, is an integral element of whole-person health, and the policies of institutions that provide inpatient and residential treatment should support this restoration of ‘wholeness’ by recognizing the value of personally-defined-intimacy as a component of their complete treatment program.


This participatory discussion session will contain three sections: In the first section, Dr. Fran Fisher will provide Introductory Remarks that will set the stage for considering the policy and design implications of this ever-present, but rarely discussed, subject. In the second section, Fran, a practicing RN of 47 years and a Clinical Sexologist / Sexuality Educator, will discuss the subject from a variety of perspectives, drawing upon her extensive experience in working directly with individuals on issues of intimacy and sexuality, and her scores of workshops with patient and family groups that span a wide range of clinical conditions – including cancer, as well as in a variety of settings – such as pre-treatment, inpatient, and post-discharge.


The third section is an open discussion with attendees. The purpose of this section is to share experiences, explore different perspectives on this subject, and to begin to explore how policy and design can be informed by a more human-centered, whole-person approach to incorporating provisions for intimacy into the delivery of mainstream inpatient and residential healthcare.


Note that, following this presentation, from 4.15 – 5.00 in the EXPO, Dr. Fisher will have her books for sale and be offering the opportunity for them to be personally inscribed.



1. Learn why there is silence on the subject of patient and resident intimacy.                                                   
2. Learn why intimacy is an integral element of whole-person health and wellness.                                         
3. Explore a range of clinically appropriate intimacy practices and how a healthcare institution can provide practical conditions that are supportive of these practices.                                     
4. Discuss how policy can be developed to introduce systemic improvements in healthcare delivery.

SESSION FOCUS AREAS: = Generative Space = NOAH