‘If you like helping people, there’s a role for you’: careers for men in social care

Only 18% of the adult social care workforce is male, but those in the sector say they wouldn’t do anything else.

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Care service manager Chris Hocking isn’t sure why only 18% of the 1.45 million people working in adult social care are male. On International Men’s Day, he has a simple message for men thinking about a new career in the sector:

“If you care about helping people, there’s a role for you.”

Hocking studied sports science at university and never even considered social care as a career, although he knew he wanted a job helping people. He freely admits he had a negative perception of the sector.

But when a friend’s parents set up their own care service, Welcome Independent Living, he decided to give it a go. Three years on, he can’t imagine ever doing anything else.

Hocking started off on the front line, providing care and support in the community. He then progressed into a senior care worker role, before being promoted to locality manager. He’s now responsible for the care and support of 60 people and manages a team of 30 care workers.

Like many other care workers, he says the most satisfying part of his job is that he’s making a difference to people’s lives, and loves the variety of his workday.

The sector needs more men to give care work a try, he says. But the biggest challenge will be overcoming the perception of the job.

“Some men tell me they’re often more comfortable being cared for by a male and feel embarrassed when female care workers support them. That’s true with personal care, especially bathing, but also guys just like to have other guys to talk to.

“We’re supporting more and more men now in our service, so we’d love more males to come and work for us”

Mike Maden spent years working in factories and warehouses before deciding adult social care was a much more rewarding career option. He wanted a stable career with job satisfaction.

Care worker with two patients in wheelchairs
A career in social care can provide job satisfaction and significant success for men prepared to work hard. Photograph: Martyn Greswolde

His first role was working with people with learning disabilities, where he admits he felt out of his depth at first. But Maden was able to talk to his employer, who helped him find his feet during his first tricky few months. He’s since progressed through several management roles and now works as a team manager for Future Directions, which supports people with learning disabilities.

“You get back what you put in. If you work hard, you get success and job satisfaction back,” he says.

Maden highly recommends a career in social care, but advises anyone interested to find out as much as possible about the job beforehand. Work experience, volunteering, or trying a taster day can all help prepare you for what to expect.

The Skills for Care chief executive, Sharon Allen, says: “Time and again I hear great stories about men who work in adult social care developing long term careers with lots of opportunities, and they say they couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

“We know there are not enough men in our sector. Our message is, if you want a job that offers huge personal and professional satisfaction then there will be a role for you.

“There are all sorts of different roles in social care that will match your skills. And given we will need to fill another 275,000 job roles over the next decade, recruiting many more men with the right values will help us meet that demand.”

Want to find out more about working in adult social care? Visit Skills for Care’s Think Care Careers website. Or if you’re a teacher, careers or employment advisor, request a local I Care…Ambassador to come and talk about working in social care.

Content on this page is produced and controlled by Skills for Care, sponsor of the Guardian Social Care Network leadership, learning and development hub.

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