This International Men’s Day, Exemplar Health Care wants to celebrate the incredible contribution that men make to the adult social care workforce, and encourage more men to see care as an inspiring and engaging career, with lots of opportunities for growth and progression.
The latest report from Skills for Care estimates that 82% of the sector’s 1.52 million-strong workforce identifies as female. However, roughly half of everyone who uses adult social care services is male.
It’s vital that the sector attracts more men to work in care, to ensure that the demographic of our workforce better represents the people we support, in order to provide the best quality care.
And with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic causing so many to lose their jobs or re-route their careers, we think that for many men, a career in care is definitely worth exploring.
This International Men’s Day, we’re sharing the stories of two frontline care colleagues who are men. Here, Scotty, Lead Activities Coordinator, and John, Registered Nurse, talk about what they love about working in the sector and why more men should consider a career in care.
‘Some men who are residents just want to talk to another male’
Scotty Davis, Lead Activities Coordinator, Kavanagh Place, Liverpool
“There’s more women working in care, as many men may be put off by stereotypes of these traditionally female-led jobs,” says Scotty Davis, a Lead Activities Coordinator at Kavanagh Place, one of our complex needs care homes in Liverpool.
But, Scotty says, there’s more to this assumption about care than meets the eye.
“In a care setting, many times residents would like a choice of receiving support from a man or a woman. While some service users prefer women on the whole, some men who are residents just want to be able to talk to another male. It makes sense for there to be a man there,” Scotty adds.
In some cases, some residents, who at Kavanagh Place live with mental health conditions and physical disabilities, are much more likely to respond and engage with Care Team members of their gender. At Scotty’s home, one example is Ian, Kavanagh Place’s de-facto gardener-in-chief. Together, the two enjoy long in-depth discussions about gardening and lots of other topics.
Should more men look to working in care? Absolutely, Scotty says. “I would recommend any man who’s thinking about whether they’d want to get into a care career should find why they shouldn’t, rather than why they should – and they’ll find less reasons why they shouldn’t.”
Scotty’s own path into care was complicated. Growing up in Liverpool, he started work as a salesman selling masters’ degree courses. This was followed by years abroad teaching English in countries such as Spain, Hong Kong, and Cambodia.
When he returned to the UK, a male friend who had worked for two decades as a Support Worker encouraged him to give it a try.
“The vast majority of people don’t know much about care other than just the basics,” he says. “It is a bit alien for a lot of males who think they may only do personal care. But if I could sit down with anyone and talk about what I do, my male friends would see it’s much more than that.”
He adds: “I’d definitely recommend anyone to do it.”
‘Men working in care are very much in the minority’
John Rouse, Nurse, Copperfields, Leeds
“Throughout my career I’ve been conscious that men working in care are very much in the minority,” says John Rouse, a Nurse at Copperfields, one of our Leeds homes. “But I think the stigma against male nursing is declining. People used to say ‘male Nurse’ as if they were a separate species, but now it’s just ‘Nurse.’ Nowadays, there are male nurses in A&E, and there are male midwives now, so I think the prejudice is reducing.”
Having become a Nurse in his forties, John’s a similar age to many of the adults he supports. Residents at his home live with conditions including complex dementia, mental health conditions and physical disabilities.
With some residents, John regularly talks with the other men at the home about things which “build bridges” – such as the price of beer or cigarettes back in their teenage years.
“It certainly does help having interests in things that people had when they were younger. The cultural bonds are slightly different, and men may actually prefer to talk about their own experiences to a man than they would to a woman.”
More men should work in the healthcare sector, John believes.
Before John became a Nurse, his career was what he describes as a “dead-end” and his life at a “turning point.” So, using the academic qualifications he’d gained as a teenager, John studied for his Nursing Diploma at the University of South Wales.
As well as being able to live close by, as the home is in a residential area of Leeds, an additional benefit of being a Nurse is being able to have plenty of time off, says John. Three days a week, he works 12 hour shifts, leaving him four days of free time.
“It’s a very nice work-life balance,” he says.
Is it worth giving nursing – and care in general, a try? “Yes”, says John. Over the years, he’s seen “people who you wouldn’t expect to do well, start work as carers while very young, 18 or 19.” A few years later, “several of them I know are now competent, qualified Nurses in senior positions.”
Careers with Exemplar Health Care
Exemplar Health Care is a leading provider of specialist nursing care for adults living with a range of complex needs. When you work in one of our homes, you’ll get a real sense of achievement and pride and there are many benefits to a career in nursing.