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A chaperone is an impartial observer present during an intimate examination of a service user. Chaperones are often necessary or desired, as intimate examinations can be embarrassing or distressing for service users and a chaperone provides an added degree of reassurance through safeguarding. This applies regardless of whether the examiner is the same gender or not. Although intimate examinations often refer to examinations which include the breasts, genitalia and/or rectum, a person’s interpretation of what may make them feel vulnerable in any given situation differs and some service users may consider any examination to be intimate.
For the majority of service users respect, explanation, consent and privacy should be sufficient and will likely take precedence over a chaperone.