Our population is aging. The charity Anchor has warned that if current trends continue, England could face a shortfall of 718,000 care workers by 2025. In the UK currently, women make up 84% of the care workforce, men comprising a mere 16%. This figure has remained static since 2012.
Professor Martin Green, of Care England, said: ‘We have an aging population and a lot of people who receive care into old age now are men. The majority of carers are women. When it comes to personal care, in particular, some men prefer this to be done by a male rather than a female.’
In this light. we reached out to Newcross healthcare assistant, Stephen Campbell from our Perth branch, and nurse Bill Blair from Dundee, about their experience of working in the sector.
What made you want to work in the care profession?
Stephen: I started working in this profession as my grandad was diagnosed and later passed with dementia. I saw how hard it was for families dealing with this and the staff, too, who do what they can. I wanted to give something back.
Bill: I think really it was something I connected with for a long time in my life. I previously worked as an engineering manager but I decided to go in a direction where I could help people in my own unique way. The ability to add even to a small degree of quality to a persons life is a great thing and much underplayed in the understanding of nursing care. It's not all medication and pain relief and going through the motions. It's seeing a wee smile and a twinkle and nothing has to be said. No thanks are required. It's the giving and taking part to see life going on day to day.I think these are the reasons I went into nursing and all the kinds of care and support I have taken part in over the last twenty years I've never looked back.
Do you think there should be more men working in care?
Stephen: Of course yes. There is still the stigma that it’s a female profession, but the places I have been placed enjoy males working in this profession. A lot of residents and patients do enjoy a male company and sometimes feel safer with a male helping.
Bill: I think there should be more males in nursing. Often a male perspective on a situation can enhance the care and personal care that is being given, especially in the care of other males. An insight into a shave or how the local team is playing can bring ease into conversation and reassurance from male to male. Ladies also appreciate being looked after by men. Giving a balance to nursing care I think would be a good thing.
Why do you think there are more women than there are men working in care?
Stephen: Working in healthcare has always been seen as a female profession, but I’ve been doing this line of work for fifteen years now and the last maybe five years it’s been seen as both male and female because the world has moved on.
Bill: There has been a long tradition ever since the time of Florence Nightingale that nursing is a female-only tradition, but if you look further back, nursing - especially in the army - was male-dominated. Florence changed the perception and to a very great effect improved nursing and pushed the profile of nursing. From an early age, we see nurses as being female. I think it will take a few more generations to see this diminish from view.
What aspect of your role do you enjoy most?
I love the fact I can make a difference to someone’s day. It can be the very smallest thing but if that has helped that person I know I’ve done something right for them.
What would you say to any men thinking of joining the care profession?
To 100% give it a try. There are so many different aspects of working in healthcare. At times you forget you're actually working as things become so natural.
At Newcross, within our own healthcare workforce. we have a higher proportion of male nurses and carers than the national average, 23% of our nurses and carers are men.
Are you a male looking to get into healthcare? Take a look at our current vacancies, we'd love to welcome you into our community.