Background 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. 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 Shed groups across other hospices.
Method Non-participant observations and semi-structured interviews were undertaken with 12 members/stakeholders of a Men’s Shed. Thematic analysis was used to identify key factors affecting success. A Delphi approach involving key stakeholders was used 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 three key benefit themes: A space for emotional support, practical activities, and social opportunities. We also found that factors affecting the success of the Men’s Shed, included: clear governance structures, a connection with the hospice, a dedicated physical space for the group, a supportive space, and having volunteers to lead the group who had experienced loss. The health benefits of attending gender specific support were described by participants as improving their physical, psychological, spiritual and social health.
Conclusion Shared experiences in hospice and palliative care environment were crucial for Men’s Shed members to develop supportive and confiding relationships. Participants described the Men’s Shed as an ”essential part of the bereavement service”.
Recommendations The study developed recommendations, successfully piloted at a second site. These were written up as part of a ‘toolkit for setting up a Men’s Shed’.
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