During a turbulent year, when Care Workers have been recognised as some of the UK’s most valuable heroes, recent research has shown that shockingly, men still make up just 18%* of the adult social care work force – a statistic that hasn’t changed for the past two years!
International Men’s Day 2020 will take place on 19th November and to celebrate, we're shining a spotlight on some of the amazing work carried out by the nation’s male Care Workers, and encouraging men to consider a role in care. Often thought of as a female-focused career, care work can be the perfect fit for personable males who can bring conversation, companionship and personal care to older people across the nation.
Having worked in the care industry for 30 years, Gareth Farmer, 48, who works at Housing 21’s Extra Care scheme, Deighton Court, in Walsall, discusses how he believes there are no more male Care Workers in 2020, than there were when he started his career in 1990.
Gareth says: “I had no idea what I wanted to do when I finished school, I got a job with a Youth Training Scheme in retail and ended up meeting a little girl with Down Syndrome, who used to visit me every day. It was then I realised that I wanted to care for people and make a difference. I entered the care industry and never looked back. Things were very different back then, and I remember being doubted because of my young age and gender, but I showed them that regardless of those things, it’s who you are as a person that makes you a good Care Worker.
“You never know the impact the little things can have, sitting with someone for 15 minutes and discussing their favourite films or listening to a story they have from years ago – those moments could be the difference between a good day and a bad day for someone else.
“I’ve been at Housing 21 for 12 years now and I have probably worked with 90% women my entire career. I urge any man, who wants a job that’s challenging yet rewarding and wants to be part of a fantastic team to consider being a Care Worker. Gender should not be an issue these days, we live in an enlightened world now. If someone feels it’s not macho to be a Care Worker, then it’s probably not the job for him - they’re usually right wimps anyway!”
It was whilst restoring bungalows for older people in 1986 that Wayne Creswell, 57, originally a labourer, first considered a career in care. Over 30 years later, Wayne has built a successful career for himself in the industry first working for the council, then the Alzheimer’s Society and for the past three and a half years at Housing 21’s Extra Care scheme Linskill Park in North Tyneside.
Wayne says: “We were revitalising elderly people’s bungalows and when the work finished, I was asked back to do some snagging on a few of the properties after the residents had moved in. I found that I got on really well with the majority of them and thought to myself, I can clean, I can iron and I can shop, so why couldn’t I be a Care Worker? I applied for a job with the council and heard back immediately – they were desperate for male Care Workers. I was the only man out of 400 Care Workers back then and even when I left 10 years ago, I was one of four men. I have always received a lot of support, and I think other Care Workers are glad to have a man around.
“For me, I do it because I want to work with people, you’ve got be a caring person and the job does come with its challenges, but the rewards are worth it. I love chatting to the residents, I’m a history lover so we can have chats about days gone by – which I think I love as much as they do.”
Five years ago, after numerous different retail roles, Ian Taylor, now 32 from Newbury, decided he wanted a more fulfilling career and applied for a Care Worker role. Now a Care Worker at Housing 21’s Extra Care scheme Alice Bye Court, Ian has never looked back and wants to encourage more men to consider a career in care – knowing the difference it can make for our elderly population.
Ian comments: “Though there’s so many ‘roles’ within my day to day job, the most important by far is becoming a companion and a friend to the residents at our scheme who sometimes wouldn’t smile or talk to anyone else all day if it wasn’t for us. Building that relationship, finding out what makes them tick, getting to know their personalities and bringing a little joy to their day – all these things make the Care Worker role so fulfilling. Of course, there’s barriers to overcome when you start working in the care sector. Getting used to helping with personal care, dealing with poorly residents and even taking the brunt of someone’s bad mood are all day to day occurrences but overall, the job you are doing is often life-changing to the residents you care for. You often become an extension of family and making residents laugh lifts my mood like nothing else!
“There’s only one other male Care Worker at the place I work, but I honestly think men can offer so much in the role. I would encourage anyone looking to enter a new sector – maybe due to the current climate - to consider care work as it’s totally changed my life and I’ve never looked back.”
At just 21, Ryan has been a Care Worker at Housing 21’s Extra Care scheme, Swallowdale, for three years. Originally entering the industry not knowing much about what the role would involve, Ryan didn’t expect it to turn into a career that he loved and would want to continue for years to come.
Ryan comments: “When I started this job I realised very quickly the importance of promoting people’s independence and I feel very grateful every day that I get to call this my career. Men make up a huge number of the residents at Housing 21, and I think it’s essential that they do have other men to open up with about how they’re feeling and any struggles they may be facing. I like to think I offer support in my role, that I’m someone our residents would feel comfortable talking to about their problems. As a Care Worker, the training we’re given is fantastic, I have found myself in some challenging situations and without the training I’ve received I wouldn’t have been able to stay calm and professional. It’s often these situations that are the most rewarding as you see how much of a difference you’ve made to someone’s life. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend a career in care to other men who want to love what they do.”
*The state of the adult social care sector and workforce in England Report. Skills for Care. Oct 2020
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