Men’s Health Connected examined the ins and outs of nursing and men’s health on Thursday, highlighting the case studies and programs that were ticking boxes when it came to effectively reaching blokes.
North Beach Medical Centre practice manager Helen Storer – with 31 years’ experience as a general practice nurse – emphasised the importance of developing a genuine relationship with male patients.
“Thank god for telehealth and the ability to reach out to FIFO workers and workers in rural communities who don’t have access to health care,” she said.
“It’s about building relationships. We’re (nurses) not as time poor as GPs. You can help patients identify what they might want to discuss with the doctor.
“It’s about knowing what’s really bothering them. It’s the thing they say on the way out of the room that’s the most important to them. 'By the way, I’ve got a lump on my testicle'.”
When he asked attendees at a local Mr Perfect BBQ gathering what prevented them from going to the GP, many men said, “I haven’t got time, I’m the breadwinner, I’ve got responsibilities for the family.”
"The allocation of 10 minutes with a GP doesn’t give men enough time,” he said.
“If you can’t develop rapport with your patients to start with, then you’ve lost them. They’re not going to come back.”
Men's Health Urology Nurse Practitioner Stu Willder pushed the power of the workplace to reach men with health education and checks.
“It allows men to access health services when they don’t really know they need them.
“If you can get nurses out in the workplaces, you’ve got a target audience. The men love it because it’s free and they get time off work.”
Dr Garth Kendall, 40 years a registered nurse, began his career in New Zealand where he set up a mobile health-screening clinic from a caravan parked at workplaces. “I had men coming out to see me, I could do cholesterol testing and blood sugar. I got very passionate about public health,” he said.
Now a senior lecturer at Curtin University, Dr Kendall teaches human development to 240 undergraduate students and is involved with national programs moving father-friendly practices forward in WA.
“It is important for nurses to be versed in all aspects of human development,” he told the online gathering.
“Nurses play a wonderful role as advocates for men’s health and fathering.
"As nurses we don’t have a great deal of political power, but we have a huge sphere of influence and we use our sphere of influence to make changes in the healthcare system.”
All agreed that access to health services did not typically sit well with the working male.
“Health services are not run at times that are appropriate for most men. It’s a huge issue for all services, that inability to easily access services. It could be helpful if we had more males working in nursing.”
At the frontline
Later in the day, the conference heard from Athol Hann, a clinical emergency nurse who has developed an app to prevent burnout in nursing.
With a 15% annual turnover in nursing equating to 54,000 nurses a year dropping out, Athol turned his focus from hands on caring to building a platform that would enable nurses to care for each other, and for themselves.
“I’d love to see other nurses step into the innovation space and use technology to address challenges in healthcare,” the fwards app developer said. “It’s okay to build stuff. We can build products, we can be innovative and creative.”
A healthy response
Sessions also revealed many success stories and approaches to connecting with hard-to-reach men, such as OzHelp’s workplace tune-ups.
Clinical nurse Mal Fraser presented the successful Atherton Physical Activity Program, delivered through Men’s Sheds Atherton – which engaged senior men in a fun-friendly exercise program, designed for all levels of fitness.
The program took a “no pressure approach” and had uncovered individual health issues. Launched in February, the program will become a model for other men’s sheds to take ownership of.
Below the belt
Perth-based penis podcast producer Melissa Hadley Barrett talked frankly about penis problems and nurse-led initiatives for men’s health.
"Sexual well-being is important for mental and physical health,” she said.
“Men don’t talk to their mates and their health professionals about their private issues. They don’t even talk to their partner about it.”
Her solution was to develop a Penile Rehabilitation Program, directed at people diagnosed with prostate cancer and delivered online via 7 modules.
The Willy Whisperers closed Facebook group allows men to chat about their health issues with other men going through similar changes and challenges.
The Penis Project Podcast has proved successful, with 17,000 subscribers since launching last September.
The podcast is a co-production with Dr Jo Milios and proved that “penis problems are a popular topic”.
TAKE ACTION FOR MEN’S HEALTH
Men’s Health Connected continues on Friday in a day dedicated to working with men and boys in all their diversity. Topics include:
- Working with older men at risk of suicide
- Working with culturally and linguistically diverse men
- Working with male carers in Tasmania
- Working at the intersections of priority populations of men
Register for free here: https://menshealthconnected.menshealthconnected.com/day-5/
Men's Health Connected is hosted by the Australian Men's Health Forum.
Full videos of each session will be made available at a later date.
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