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Men In Care

Right around the world, research proves women live longer than men. While Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows that life expectancy across both sexes is increasing, it concurs that the female portion of our national population is outliving their male counterparts. The Federal Government’s “Institute of Health and Welfare” reported that, as at June 30, 2018, some 282,000 people were using residential care (permanent or respite), home care or transition care services here in Australia. The report stated that, of these people, women heavily outnumbered men in each program. In fact, on average, two in three people using aged care here in Australia last year were women. So, what impact does this trend have on our aged care sector?

While we know we are dealing with an overall aging population (with pressure on the industry to provide an ever-increasing number of aged care beds that meet and exceed the new Australian Aged Care Quality Standards), Palm Lake Care has an admission policy that intentionally commits to ensuring equity of the sexes across our resident populations. And while our aspiration is to build a strong male contingent across each of our four aged caring communities, we know that the work is not done in simply finding these male residents. We also know that male-to-male companionship is especially important in life, and therefore also in the aged care setting. Children and grandchildren always play an integral supporting role in any aged care resident’s life, but when it comes to men, they also need the stimulation of other men of their own age. Put short, blokes need other blokes. 

Palm Lake Care Lifestyle Teams work hard to ensure they schedule and facilitate activities and excursions that appeal directly to the men and encourage them to spend time together. For example, at Palm Lake Care Bargara, there’s a group of male residents who frequent the Coral Coast Men’s Shed. According to the organisation, ‘The Shed’ is run especially for men and provides a place “where blokes from all walks of life can meet other blokes for support and learn to use or develop skills with different shed tools like lathes, saw-benches, drills and grinders”. 

Palm Lake Care Bargara Lifestyle Team coordinator Kim Milowski says her male residents are encouraged to attend and participate in activities such as woodwork, dismantling old electronics and other different arts and crafts. 

“It gives them the chance to also interact with other men in our local community,” explains Kim. “Our gentlemen are offered morning tea and a friendly chat after their activity and, by all reports, they thoroughly enjoy their Men’s Shed visits.”

From a facilities perspective, Palm Lake Care is also ensuring the built environments in each location are conducive to male interaction. For example, some time ago it was identified that a handful of Palm Lake Care Bargara men were interested in playing pool, but that the pool table was not ideally located in the building. It took some planning and logistics to get the heavy table shifted, but its new position in the main community area proved it an unexpectedly strong magnet for the men. Most afternoons you’ll find them together, sharing shots and laughs. Resident Antonio Fratangelo has proved himself a gun on the pool table. It’s a game he played in his youth and a passion he has rediscovered since the table was moved. Edging 90 years young, Tony’s known to draw a crowd of fellow resident players on a daily basis, all keen for a game. So much so that Tony’s wife, Beatrice (who also lives at Palm Lake Care Bargara), has given in to the fact that she must share her husband with his beloved pool table – such is his passion for the game! Thanks to Tony paving the way, a pool table now features in a prominent location within every Palm Lake Care community.

Across our locations, we have lawn bowls greens and the men can also shoot basketball hoops and play cricket. ‘Sports bars’ are also appearing, where male residents can congregate on comfortable lounges and watch televised sporting competitions while enjoying a coldie together. For ‘big’ sporting events, staff even utilise the on-site movie cinemas to ensure they get everyone in! Of course, the ladies are always welcome to join in these kinds of activities, too. But, when it comes to our unashamedly intentional policy to build strong, supportive and engaged male cohorts, it’s all just another way that Palm Lake Care is ensuring our approach to aged care remains different.