The experiences of men who have provided at-home care for a loved one before and during the COVID-19 pandemic will be the focus of a new study by Edge Hill University.
The project will uncover the untold stories of UK male caregivers who delivered ‘informal’ care to a significant other at home before entering ‘formal’ care, and the impact on their mental wellbeing.
According to Carers UK, 42 per cent of carers are men, with data from the Office for National Statistics revealing that a quarter of male carers provide care for a spouse.
A survey conducted by Carers UK reported that 72 per cent of respondents said they had suffered mental ill health as a result of caring.
Chloe Thomson, a Graduate Teaching Assistant and PhD student at Edge Hill, is leading the study as part of her PhD in Health. Her inspiration for the project was borne out of the need to learn more about the male experience of caring to help inform future support.
Chloe said: “There is an overwhelming amount of academic literature focusing on the care experience, from a largely female perspective. This often reports on the pressures that women face alongside or from their care responsibilities or highlights the support networks that women have access to.
“However, the male perspective is commonly neglected from this narrative. This made me wonder how men experience their care role, because 42 per cent of UK carers are men – are we missing nearly half the story?”
Chloe studied her undergraduate degree in Health and Social Wellbeing at Edge Hill and has since gained a Masters while working as a dementia healthcare assistant within care homes.
She said: “Working as a dementia healthcare assistant taught me about the caring dynamic and highlighted that there is often a carer – a partner, family member or friend – at the centre of the patient’s story as well. This made me wonder, where was the narrative from the individual providing the care?
“By using a combination of photography and interview, I’ve been uncovering the stories of men caring for their partners, children and parents.”
Edge Hill’s Health and Social Care degrees will provide students with the skills needed to work in a range of settings and develop the empathic mindset needed to deliver effective care. The University helps students to find invaluable placement opportunities in the NHs and local government. Once confident in practice, students will be ready to take on a range of roles or move on to further study for clinical and non-clinical careers.