Connecting with older men

HACC providers need to think carefully about how they engage with older, male clients, according to a study from NSW.

Home and community care (HACC) providers need to design and promote programs carefully to appeal to older men, according to a study from NSW.

Although men make up close to 45 per cent of the older population, only a third of HACC services are used by older men.

The study from the Men’s Health Information and Resource Centre at the University of Western Sydney recommends that services make direct, personal contact with men who seem reluctant to receive assistance.

Providers need to take time to establish a personal connection with older men and explore the underlying issues when men reject services, the report said.

It also stressed the importance of using appropriate language when communicating with older, male clients.

“We were repeatedly told that the terms ‘frail’ and ‘day care’ should be avoided,” the report said.

“Men are unlikely to think of themselves as ‘frail aged’ or wanting to go to ‘day care’.”

The study was based on a series of surveys, focus groups and interviews with HACC service providers, older men and their carers.

It found that many men did not take up available services because they felt embarrassed to ask for help or they believed that they were doing fine.

“Clearly, if a man believes he is ‘doing fine’, then there is no impetus for him to accept assistance,” the report said. “For example, as one man said: ‘I can’t see the dirt, it doesn’t worry me’.

“However the rejection of assistance potentially creates a complex situation because a man may subjectively judge that he is coping, whereas service providers and family may have concerns for his wellbeing.”

Older men tend to shun day programs because they do not want to participate in organised activities or they feel the activities available are not interesting for men.

The study found that they prefer unstructured activities such as gardening, fishing, playing cards, watching sport on TV and having a chat with their mates.

Even if men do enjoy the activities on offer, they often choose not to participate when groups are dominated by women.

“Feeling like the only man or being significantly outnumbered by women was identified as a substantial barrier to male participation in day programs or organised activities,” the report said.

“That is, even if a man might enjoy a particular activity, he may feel uncomfortable being with a group of women or being expected to socialise with women.”

Click here to see the full report.

Tags: community-care, hacc, men, university-of-western-sydney,

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