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Men with long-term conditions demand better social care

9 September 2014

The social care sector needs to focus on gender-specific social and sexual needs when looking after men with debilitating long-term health conditions, a new study has found.

The social care sector needs to focus on gender-specific social and sexual needs when looking after men with debilitating long-term health conditions, a new study has found.

Researchers at the University of Bristol looked at the views of 20 men, aged from 21 to 33, who have Duchenne muscular dystrophy - a life-limiting neuromuscular disease which gradually causes the muscles to weaken.

The study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) School for Social Care Research (SSCR), is being presented at the Disability Studies Conference in Lancaster today [9 September] and reveals that men sometimes found that social care took no account of their male gender and they wanted more support with social activities and sexual relationships.

One participant said: "I think the actual impact of social care can be incredibly emasculating, if it is set up in such a way that it takes away your independence and your autonomy. It's not even gender neutral, because gender's not even in there."

Aspects of life that the men found challenging and would welcome more support with included:

  • difficulties in attracting sexual/intimate partners;
  • barriers to obtaining paid work;
  • questions about moving out of the family home relating to care, support and loneliness;
  • restrictions on a social life linked to shortage or inflexibility of support arrangements;
  • concerns about physical appearance and muscularity.

Social care staff should give cues to show that such topics are not off-limits, prompting men to feel able to discuss issues of concern.

A short film based on the research findings is available to view on YouTube.

You can read the full news release on the University of Bristol website.

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