Balance for better – what does the care sector need?
The focus of this year’s International Women’s Day is all about better balance (#BalanceforBetter). Today we’re celebrating the vital contribution that women make delivering care services every day across our charity.
But in the care sector, balanced gender diversity needs a boost to see better male representation too. So women and men from our community also share why balance in care matters.
Celebrating women in care
Wendy Snowdon used to be a business woman, who made a career switch to become a Care Support Worker. She works at Livability York House Ossett, a residential care home for disabled adults.
Wendy Snowdon used to be a business woman, who made a career switch to become a Care Support Worker. She works at Livability York House Ossett, a residential care home for disabled adults. “I work with a number of people in my job. I was Key Worker for one particular lady, a similar age to me, who’d been in a wheelchair for a few years. She hadn’t been on holiday for years, and I took her on the coach to the Midlands. We went to Warwick Castle, went to the pantomime and she absolutely loved it. Working with her has been the kind of thing that makes my job worthwhile – you realise you’re doing something right.” Read Wendy’s story here.
Wendy Support Worker at Livability York House
“I hope that my expertise in the field of social care can be enriched by my experience of disability. I am very proud to be a disabled woman, it is part of who I am; but I also want people to see me as Kayleigh, not just the “woman in the wheelchair”. I hope to bring all my sides to the job that I do as someone’s partner, colleague, and university graduate and recently mother. I hope that people learn from my expertise, whether they have been disabled or not. I seek to inspire not only because of my disability but because of the whole person I am.”
Kayleigh Engagement Officer at Livability
Celebrating full diversity in care
The care sector often faces barriers in gender diversity. An article in The Nursing Times stated the sector sees men making up just 15.3 per cent of the workforce, according to the last UK census. An article by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation stated that four in five paid carers are women.
In a sector where recruitment and retention is often difficult, seeing a better gender balance is important. Women and men from our community share why.
Tracy Aldridge is in management with Livability, supporting disabled adults in residential and supported living contexts.
In the care sector, ensuring a balance of female/male staff means we can give the individuals we support choices about who they wish to assist them. This could be with something intimate like personal care or achieving a goal that they’ve set their heart on. I find female and male staff respond and deliver care and support differently, and they empathise and promote independence differently too. This is something that needs to be promoted and celebrated.
Molly Leary uses a Livability supported living service. She is blind, is studying performing arts and is looking for a volunteer role in care.
I think it’s important to have both male and female staff members – a variety of people, really. If I need help with getting some clothing on, or it’s dealing with awkward straps or something, then I definitely prefer a female. If a male carer came and I wanted a female, I’d feel happy to ask if a woman could come instead.
Darren Neale is a support worker, working with disabled adults aged 20 to 70-plus in supported living.
Diversity is something we promote as an organisation and I think having a male and female point of view gives a more balanced approach. This helps us to listen and respond to the needs of the people we support. We can offer a choice to our people if they have a preference to discuss topics or personal issues with male or female; this might be around sexual health, for instance.
Kayleigh works as an Engagement Officer at Livability, working with those we support.
More men in the care sector would definitely boost the self-esteem of disabled men. The man receiving the care can feel he has more in common with male staff and feel more able to open up. Sometimes, it can motivate disabled men to achieve goals because they feel some empathy in shared experiences and interests, with a male worker. The care sector is not a place only for women to work and having male carers can challenge the maternal culture that seems to exist. Sharing empathic experiences gives people a reason to get up in the morning and that, I feel, is great evidence of good care. I believe that men and women each have great things to contribute.
Find out more about working with Livability here.