Background Hospices are an important hub for communities and can provide places for peer support. However, historically hospices have often struggled to reach men who have a life-limiting illness, or who care or cared for ill partners. Gender specific peer support has been identified as one way to promote men’s health and well-being and reduce health and social inequalities. This includes initiatives such as Men’s Sheds; community spaces for men to meet, engage and work on projects. However, little is known about how Men’s Sheds can be successful in the hospice context or how they can benefit members.
Aim The aim of this project was to identify features for the success of a hospice-based Men’s Shed group and use this learning to contribute to the development of further Men’s Shed groups across other hospices.
Method Non-participant observations and semi-structured interviews were undertaken with 10 members of a Men’s Shed. Thematic analysis was used to identify key factors affecting success. We used a Delphi approach involving key stakeholders to develop draft recommendations for expanding the service to other hospices. These were then piloted at a second hospice and lessons learnt used to provide final recommendations.
Findings This study identified several key aspects of what it takes to develop a successful Men’s Shed and maintain it including: issues for the host organisation to consider from conception and beyond; an awareness of members’ motivations for attending; in-depth understanding of the benefits of attending gender specific peer group support; potential difficulties and suggested resolutions and group characteristics essential to maintain and develop the group.
Conclusion The study successfully developed recommendations which were piloted at a second site.
Recommendations Hospices developing a Men’s Shed need to consider the specific needs of service users and be willing to let users take ownership of the group.
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