As our population ages and the gap in life expectancy for women and men decreases, demand is growing to attract male workers to the health homecare sector. Pacific Homecare’s CEO Hamish Crooks talks about the challenge.
While Pacific people still lag behind the overall NZ population in terms of longevity, we are living longer than we ever have.
In 2014, life expectancy for NZ women was 83.2 years (78.7 years for Pacific) and 79.5 years for men (74.5 years for Pacific). So, on average women live 3.7 years longer (or 4.2 for Pacific). Now compare that to 2007 when life expectancy for NZ women was more than four years (4.2) longer than men.
The result, according to Pacific Homecare Chief Executive Hamish Crooks, is that the gap between demand for health services and the available resources is widening because men are living longer but the homecare workforce is still overwhelmingly dominated by women.
Workforces need to evolve and cater for the changing needs of the elderly, who are living longer and living better. That includes providing male Support Workers to deliver services to male clients where needed.
“Our services often involve tasks of a personal nature, such as showering, toileting or dressing” says Hamish.
“Naturally, some of our male clients prefer to have a male Support Worker perform some of these tasks.”
Currently, the aged care sector is dominated by females. An inquiry by the National Equal Opportunities Network (NEON) into aged care stated that in New Zealand, our caregiver workforce is 92% female.
It concluded that the absence of men in paid caring work is primarily due to pay, status and societal stereotyping that it is “women’s work”.
“If increasing numbers of men require aged care services it is important to provide male carers and to provide a gender appropriate service. Boundaries in relation to personal care are breaking down and society needs to become more encouraging of men in caring roles,” (NEON, 2012).
Hamish agrees that attracting men to work in the sector and retaining them is an on-going challenge.
“Part of what we offer and what makes us unique is matching our clients’ needs with the right Support Worker. Sometimes that’s gender, sometimes it’s cultural or language based,” he says.
“Finding good male workers who are willing to work in the sector is challenging.”
It takes commitment and a passion to serve.
“Our values are the basis for the work we do each day. I want to encourage and remind all of our Support Workers that our work is significant, important and crucial for the communities we serve.”
If you’re a male looking for a new challenge and are passionate about your community, visit our careers page to find out more