The role of Men's Sheds in promoting the physical and mental well-being of older men.

Purpose

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.

Approach

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

Outcomes

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.

Implications

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

  1. The importance of community initiatives for supporting the health and wellbeing (HWB) of men
  2. The complexity of measuring HWB with outcome measures whose conceptualisation of HWB have already been pre-determined. This became apparent during discussions with the participants, as what they were telling us was not always reflected in the scores obtained from the outcome measures.
  3. Men in Sheds lacks cultural diversity (most of the men were of White British origin). I therefore learnt that there should be more consideration of cultural adaptations to the Sheds or other initiatives to facilitate more inclusivity for a diverse range of older men.

Fund acknowledgements

Age UK Cheshire. 

Additional notes

This work was presented at Physiotherapy UK 2019

Please see the attached Innovations poster below.

 

Article, The conversation, August 16 - 2018: 

https://theconversation.com/how-sheds-can-help-men-stave-off-loneliness-after-retirement-according-to-our-new-research-100182

 

Evaluation of Men in Sheds for Age UK Cheshire Final Report July 2018:

 http://e-space.mmu.ac.uk/620947/3/Evaluation%20of%20Men%20in%20Sheds%20for%20Age%20UK%20Cheshire%20report%20draft%20%283%29.pdf

 

For further information about this work please contact Sandra Hartley.

 

Reference(s):

1. World Health Organization (WHO). (2015) World Report on Ageing and Health. Geneva: World Health             Organization.

2. Wiles, J.L., Leibing, A., Guberman, N., Reeve, J. and Allen R.E. (2012) The meaning of "aging in place" to older people. Gerontologist, 52,3: 357-66.

3. Reynolds, K., Mackenzie, C., Medved, M. and Roger, K. (2015) The experiences of older male adults throughout their involvement in a community programme for men. Ageing and Society, 35,3: 531-551.

4. Wilson, NJ, Cordier, R, Doma, K, Misan G and Vaz, S (2015) Men’s Sheds functions and philosophy: toward a framework for future research and men’s health promotion. Health Promotion Journal of Australia, 26,2: 133-141.