More than 40% of carers in Scotland are male according to new research, but the Carers Trust Scotland is worried they don't get enough support
Nearly half of Scotland’s unpaid carers are male, according to new research which dispels the myth that women are more likely to care for loved ones.
We need to ensure employers, families and communities support the dads, brothers, partners and sons in our communities carrying out this role - Florence Burke
The report, Husband, Dad, Son, Boyfriend, Carer, found that a quarter of male carers who also have jobs do not tell people that they are a carer.
Around half of male carers said they though there needs were different to female carers. They said that men find it harder to ask for help and that balancing health and work is challenging.
Some 44% also said that they thought caring for a loved one was having a negative impact on their mental health and a similar number felt that it was making their physical health worse. A total of 45% of male carers also said they had a long-term health problem or disability themselves.
Over half of male carers in Scotland are spending more than 60 hours a week caring and those who are not working because of care commitments said they feel isolated.
Florence Burke, director of Carers Trust Scotland, said: “Caring is often regarded as a female issue but this research tells us differently.
“Men who are caring often don’t feel able to ask for support. We need to ensure employers, families and communities support the dads, brothers, partners and sons in our communities carrying out this role.”
|Reality bites: Tommy Gallagher
Tommy Gallagher, 80, from Giffnock was married to his wife Rena for 57 years. They met when they were just 17 and had two children and four grandchildren.
Ten years ago, Rena was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and Tommy became her full-time carer. They had a very close relationship and Rena’s illness was very hard for Tommy to cope with.
His social worker referred him to East Renfrewshire Carers Centre soon afterwards and he started to get one-to-one supporter there. Later, he began to attend the carer support group and noticed there were clear differences between the needs of men and women.
“For a start, there were more women – I think there were 12 ladies and only two men,” he explained. “The women in the group seemed to be able to open up a lot more quickly and easily than the men. It was difficult to find your voice when the conversation was dominated by female carers, particularly when discussing matters that were so personal”.
Tommy mentioned the issue to a support worker, who decided that it would be a good idea to start a male-only support group. Since then, it has grown in popularity with around 10 men attending a monthly get together.
“It’s been great,” says Tommy. “Almost right away you could see that the men were more comfortable opening up and asking for advice from the other male carers. Anyone new coming in realised they weren’t alone.”
Sadly, Tommy’s wife Rena passed away in February 2013. Tommy, however, continues to attend the group and even runs it when the support work is on holiday.