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WDHS: Men's Out and About - Living In Rural Residential Aged Care Facilities

The move to residential aged care is challenging for all residents and can impact on a person’s physical, emotional and social experience of life. These effects can be intensified when a person is part of a minority group residing within that particular environment.

Western District Health Service

 

 
Benefits included increased appetite, increased socialisation with family and other residents, increased cognition, and increased mood...
 

It may seem unusual to think of men being a 'minority group' but that can be the case when a man enters aged care residential facilities. Both the longer life expectancy of women and the lower proportion of older men that reside in aged care facilities means that there is usually a considerably greater number of women than men.

This can mean that service providers can overlook what older men need from facilities, which could further alienate males from attending or integrating into the facility.

The Men's Out And About project was based on the recognition that older men could be in a minority and so sought to involve them directly in creating social networks that cater to their needs.

Results And Outcomes Of The Project

The program aim was to take people out of the facility in order to participate in social activities they had enjoyed in the past and to expose them to new experiences. This involved building allegiances with many different people within the community in order to allow the program to grow and cater to the individuals needs.

Some of these contacts were groups such as The Hamilton Men’s Shed, Wood Turners Guild and Vintage Car club, others were individuals who operated farms, a sheep dairy, and silos to name but a few. “we did not encounter any negativity from men, women children or businesses within the community.

Everywhere we went we were invited and made to feel welcome.” (Judy Killen – project worker 2010).

Participation numbers indicated there were on average 50 occasions per month various residents were able to be involved in access with the wider community.

One resident when interviewed said "I thought once you went into aged care you only went there for somewhere to die" (participant 2010).

From our program we saw a dedicated group of residents who looked forward to the camaraderie of the men’s program and joined in a wide range of social activities (any with a rural/farming focus) which renewed their enthusiasm in life.

Other benefits for men as indicated in the staff satisfaction survey included increased appetite on the days of the program, increased socialisation with family and other residents as a result of the program, increased cognition, and increased mood.

These physiological benefits support the feedback from residents as to the overall benefit of such a program.

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