What do men think of health and care services?
Local Healthwatch go on tour to see what men in the pubs and clubs of Blackburn with Darwen really think about health and care services.
We spoke to Mark Rasburn, Chief Executive of Healthwatch Blackburn with Darwen to find out more.
We want everyone to have their say on local health and care services. The majority of people who come to speak to us are female, so we wanted to find a way to hear about men's experiences. Not everybody is willing or able to come to meetings so we needed to think of a creative way to speak to them.
What did you do?
We toured local pubs, clubs and cafés and spoke to the men there about health and social care, and about Healthwatch and what we do. We ran pub quizzes with a mixture of general knowledge and health related questions and did some informal interviews, which enabled us to speak to over 185 men.
What did they tell you?
The majority of men we spoke to (73%) were confident about accessing health and care services. However, only 62% felt that services in the area were either good or very good, and we heard about a number of problems they're facing:
Trouble accessing and being involved with care
‘Men are men, they don't discuss their problems’
17% said they did not feel confident about accessing services. Some said they didn't know when to ring their GP and felt concerned that they wouldn't get to see the same doctor each time. We also heard that some men felt that they were not sufficiently involved in decisions about their care.
A lack of clear information
31% didn’t know or were unsure where to go to find information about local health and social care services. They often felt that services were not aimed at them, and were marketed more towards women. While many felt that better information would help, some felt that there should be services specifically for men too.
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Mental Health stigma
Over 72% of men said that they felt there was a stigma attached to mental health in men. Many spoke of a fear of not being perceived as not being masculine enough and this put them off getting help.
Drink, drugs and isolation
They also discussed how issues such as loneliness, drugs, alcohol and money worries prevented them from staying healthy, both mentally and physically. 39% felt that alcohol and drug use were key issues for men in Blackburn with Darwen, while 21.5% said they felt lonely and isolated all or most of the time.
‘[men] can't talk about alcoholism’
What happened as a result?.
To share what we'd found we held a pub quiz at a working men’s club, including questions about general knowledge, findings from the report and the role of Healthwatch. We invited health professionals, local councillors, members of local voluntary organisations, and men from the local community. This was a great way to get people visiting the club involved with finding out about the results and the role of local Healthwatch. When we left, many of the regulars were reading the report and discussing the findings.
We also shared our report with health and social care providers, which included eight recommendations for ways to ensure the needs of men in the area are met.
The local hospital trust has already started to use our findings to help them design their information for patients and the local Public Health team are including the findings in their strategies.
How else is local Healthwatch making an impact?
Find out more about the work local Healthwatch do to make sure those who run services act on what really matters to you.
Find your local Healthwatch
If you’d like to share your experiences of health and care services, get in touch with your local Healthwatch.