Men’s Sheds are a welcoming environment for individuals from all backgrounds and levels of ability, however, some individuals may have additional health needs or disabilities that require particular attention. For example, physical disability, long-term illness, learning difficulties, or mental health issues.
It must also be noted that although Men’s Sheds may deliver health benefits to their members, they are not a formal health care deliverer/ service. This means that Shed members do not have direct responsibility for their members, and all members must be accountable for their own actions, therefore expectations and roles must be clearly communicated.
Here are a few useful tips:
- Identify any health requirements of members when they first start at the Shed (e.g. medications, if they require a carer, contact details of guardian). This information could be collected using a simple application form. Always be aware that there are varying levels of disability that may not be immediately visible to the eye.
- Work with the person to consider ways to adapt the environment so that they can participate. It could be something as simple as turning down music for those hard of hearing.
- Be aware that, for some individuals, some tasks may take longer to accomplish but it is important to show respect and consideration for each person by allowing them to operate at their level of ability with dignity.
- Regularly observe or ‘check-in’ with members who may show signs of health deterioration that may impact on their ability to take part in Shed activities. If appropriate consult with the person’s family, carer/ guardian/ service provider for advice.
- If an individual requires a support worker/ carer, ensure that they always accompany them to the Shed and are responsible for them while they are there.
In terms of legislation and liability:
- Always refer to the UK Equalities Act 2010 or the Irish Equal Status Acts 2000-2018 to ensure that you are not unlawfully discriminating anyone based on disability.
- Ensure that the Shed is covered by adequate insurance (e.g. in case someone is injured and claims that the Shed is liable).
If you are concerned you can also speak to your national Men’s Shed Association for further advice.
As Sheds are known for the positive health benefits they can bring their members, you may receive visits or phone calls from healthcare professionals, such as social workers, asking if they can bring their clients/ patients down to the Shed. This can include people who require constant care or do not know why they are there. Some Sheds may be able to accommodate this, however always remember to consult with all of your members first. Similarly, it is ok to say no to such referrals as this is might not be appropriate for your Shed and you are not a healthcare provider.