In 2014, the Young Residential Aged Care Lifestyle Coordinator started up a Men’s Den in order to offer a range of meaningful activities more suited to the male residents. The aim was for these activities to create an environment that encourages mate ship, offers opportunities for conversation and companionship and increases feelings of self-esteem.
Early in 2017, the team began to realise that the percentage of men they had in the facility was much higher than it had been in previous years. In the past there was about 5% of the residents who were men. In 2017, there was up to 20%. They began to think more creatively about ways in which they could meet the needs of the men better. The men still enjoyed many of the activities that were available, but many men find craft, bingo and singing is not really their thing.
In addition, there is an increasing awareness of the health and wellbeing of men across all ages. We now have magazines just for men’s health, groups like ‘Men’s Sheds’ starting up, and organisations like ‘Movember’ and ‘Mensline Australia’ raising funds and awareness of health and lifestyle issues for men.
So, with all this in mind, the Lifestyle and Pastoral Care staff decided to refresh the ‘Men’s Den’. In 2014, a special room had already been done up especially for this purpose, with comfortable chairs, a TV and DVD, a bar, sports equipment, magazines, card games, footy and car posters, and even beer in the fridge!
Spiritual Wellbeing Coordinator Nicole tells us more about here and the team reinvigorated the Young Men’s Den. “We found a great volunteer who was able to give some time to help run the sessions, so in May 2017 we began meeting on Tuesdays mornings, from 10-11 am. We have morning tea (or a beer) and a theme or activity for the day and engage in ‘secret men’s business’! All men are welcome, and much fun is had by all.
With many of the men living with various forms of dementia, as well as loss of cognitive ability, mobility, hearing and sight, we work hard to find activities in which they can all enjoy and participate, focusing on what they can do, rather than what they can’t do. We strive to provide an encouraging and nurturing support network, encouraging good self-care and management of emotions.
Within western cultures importance is placed on men being competitive, self-reliant, stoic, tough, competent, invulnerable, unemotional and successful, to name a few. One of the consequences of trying to live up to this image is that many men find it difficult to express how they really feel and seeking help when they need it. One of the aims of our Men’s group is to make it a safe place where they share their feelings and can risk showing vulnerability.
We engage in a range of activities and pursuits, some are quite active like pool, basketball, nerf guns, golf and the like. We also include more intellectually based games such as hangman or trivial pursuit, as well as having discussion topics, which helps them to explore their feelings and what is important to them. There have been great community groups that support what we do here and come in to chat to the men to show them what they do, like the Young Heritage Car Club and visiting builders and men from the Army. We have a great range of activities that has meant there’s something for everyone.”