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The MEND Study

Promoting diversity and under-represented staff in adult social care; attracting, recruiting and retaining more male care workers – The MEND study

Exciting new research is underway!

The social care workforce is mostly women, and only 19% men. Improving workforce equality, diversity and inclusion is a priority for national social care organisations. Recruiting more men to the care workforce would mean:

  • care teams would better reflect the mix of people receiving care,
  • preferences for male or female care staff could be more consistently considered and met. This is important for social interactions and companionship, and for providing choice in relation to being supported with personal care,
  • a better mix of talents, skills, and experiences,
  • growing the workforce by attracting workers from a relatively ‘untapped’ group.

Research has not yet explored the experiences and needs of male workers despite growing evidence around the social care workforce.

In 2022, this topic was also raised by a male care worker at Springfield Healthcare; a partner in an academic and care partnership called Nurturing Innovation in Care Home Excellence in Leeds (NICHE-Leeds).

NICHE-Leeds partners, with the National Care Forum and Skills for Care developed a research proposal and have secured funding to study this: the MEND study. The study aims to increase the number of male care workers supporting older people living in care home and home care settings. There are 3 phases in the MEND study:

  1. Understanding more about the men who join, stay, and leave care work: every year information about the social care workforce in England is collated by Skills for Care. We will use this information to understand more about the men who join, stay, and leave care work. We will also interview male care workers to understand more about their reasons for joining, staying in, and leaving care work.
  2. Looking at what other sectors are doing: we will search for previous work (published papers) to find out what childcare, education, nursing, and social work are doing about this issue.
  3. Co-designing strategies to attract, recruit, and retain more and diverse male workers: we will use the information collected in phases 1 and 2 to co-develop these strategies with sector stakeholders.


If you’re interested in this study, please get in touch to hear more (email R.Devi@Leeds.ac.uk). The MEND team members are listed below, follow us (and @LeedsNiche) for all the latest updates!  

Reena Devi (The MEND study lead), Associate Professor in Applied Health and Care Research, School of Healthcare, University of Leeds, & Scientific Linking Pin for NICHE-Leeds @_DrReenaDevi

Karen Spilsbury Professor of Nursing at the School of Healthcare, Faculty of Medicine & Health, University of Leeds & Academic Director for NICHE-Leeds @SpillersK  

Kirsty Haunch, Research Fellow Faculty of Medicine & Health, University of Leeds, & Scientific Linking Pin for NICHE-Leeds @KirstyJHaunch

Kyle Bonham-Simpson, Early Years Practitioner (with experience of working in a care home for older people).

Tracey Hopkinson, Talent Acquisition Lead, Springfield Healthcare @SpringfieldHea2

Will Fenton, Analytics Manager, Skills for Care  @SfC_Data

Tanya Fozzard, Team Leader, Analysis, Skills for Care @SfC_Data

Natalie Fleming, Team Leader, Analysis, Skills for Care @SfC_Data

Anna O’Gara, Workforce Intelligence Analyst, Skills for Care @SfC_Data

Jon Kerr, Head of Workforce Capacity, Skills for Care @skillsforcare

Liz Jones Policy Director at The National Care Forum @NCF_Liz

Finlay Turner-Berry Policy, Research and Projects Officer at the national Care Forum, @finnturnerberry

Natalie King, Information specialist and qualified librarian at the Leeds Institute of Health Sciences, University of Leeds @NVK_Leeds

Yvonne Bell, a member of the NICHE-Leeds family and friends panel @LeedsNiche

Janet Parkin, a member of the NICHE-Leeds family and friends panel @LeedsNiche

The MEND study is funded by the National Institute of Health and Care Research, Research for Social Care (NIHR205721). The views expressed here are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NIHR, NHS or Department of Health and Social Care.

Skills-for-Care, The state of the adult social care sector and workforce in England 2023. https://www.skillsforcare.org.uk/Adult-Social-Care-Workforce-Data/Workforce-intelligence/publications/national-information/The-state-of-the-adult-social-care-sector-and-workforce-in-England.aspx

Local Government Association. Our vision for a future care workforce strategy – https://www.local.gov.uk/our-support/partners-care-and-health/adult-social-care-workforce/our-vision-future-care-workforce