The role of Men's Sheds in promoting the physical and mental well-being of older men.
The active and healthy ageing agenda challenges the perception that old age is a negative experience and recognises the positive contributions that older adults can make to their communities. However, successful ageing in place requires community-based support for older adults that facilitates social participation, independence and being active. Older men are less likely to join community groups where they can develop social ties and less gender specific support services are available for them.
Men's Sheds (MiS) is an initiative that aims to mitigate this by fostering the building of social networks between older men by providing social space for them to meet and undertake physical activities such as woodwork or metalwork.
The purpose of this research is to investigate the impact of MiS on the physical health and mental well-being of the attendees.
Two self-reported questionnaires, the RAND 36 - item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) and the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale (WEMWBS), were utilised to investigate the impact of MiS on the physical health and mental well-being of the attendees of 4 Sheds based in a in a North-West region
Descriptive and statistical analysis (paired sample T-tests) were undertaken to investigate if there was a difference in the Men's overall health status after attending the Shed for 6 months. The total mean score at baseline for the SF-36 (n=86) was 69.46 and 67.97 at 6 months showing a slight decline. However, no significant difference was found. Thus, suggesting that a maintenance of these components of quality of life had occurred over this period.
In sub-analysis, maintenance was achieved in 6 of the 8 categories (limitations due to physical health, energy/fatigue, emotional well-being, social functioning, physical functioning and pain). Two categories (general health and role limitations due to emotional problems) did show a small but significant reduction in scores at 6-month follow up (p=0.026; p=0.02 respectively), indicating some deterioration in quality of life related to these components. For the WEMWBS (n=57) the total mean score at baseline was 53.86 and 51.12 at 6 months. This difference was found to be significant (p = 0.025), indicating that mental well-being had deteriorated at 6 months.
Maintenance was achieved in overall health status of the participants who attended the MiS however; there was a small but significant deterioration in mental well-being at 6 months. Further consideration therefore needs to be made as to how the mental well-being of the men who attend the Sheds can be enhanced. This may include ongoing support or additional mechanisms to be put in place to support the men's mental well-being.
Cost and savings
We did not do a cost analysis as not an aim of the research.
As many of the participants who were attending the MiS had physical health problems including multimorbidity, MiS initiatives could help to support the maintenance of these conditions. MiS initiatives could also provide an opportunity for physiotherapists to access older men to promote their health and well-being and thus support the Active and Healthy Ageing agenda.
Top three learning points
Age UK Cheshire.
This work was presented at Physiotherapy UK 2019
Please see the attached Innovations poster below.
Article, The conversation, August 16 - 2018:
Evaluation of Men in Sheds for Age UK Cheshire Final Report July 2018:
For further information about this work please contact Sandra Hartley.
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