Research from the Nursing Research Unit, King's College London, examines the role of older nurses in the workforce and finds that older and experienced nurses are a source of stability and continuity in an NHS under constant change.
Statistics suggest that older nurses will be the future of the nursing workforce. By 2010 the majority of nurses will be over 40 years old and 20% will be aged 50 or over. Until recently, the careers and working lives of midlife nurses have received little attention despite concerns about a shortage of skilled nurses in London and ever-increasing numbers of older nurses taking early retirement.
The Nurses Working in Mid-life is an independent study funded by the Department of Health, from the Nursing Research Unit at King's College London. It examined work and retirement issues in different professional roles and different organisational contexts and cultures. Taking into account domestic circumstances and partner's retirement decisions, the aim of the study was to explore personal, professional and organisational factors that would affect future participation in the workforce of nurses aged 45 and over. The independent study focused on the working lives of both qualified nurses and healthcare assistants and explored the impact of organisational policy and practice upon commitment to nursing.
Lead researcher, Dr Janette Bennett, says: "Flexibility in the NHS needs to be maintained and if necessary improved in order to retain nurses after retirement."
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"I did plan for my retirement, but chose flexible in the NHS as I enjoy the work I do, so 2 days a week give me freedom and the chance to continue using the skills I have gained over the years. I will be 65 very soon." - Name and address supplied
"I was hoping to retire this year at 60 having worked in the NHS for 40yrs but due to my husband's ill health will need to continue full time until I am 65. I too would value being able to speak to someone re my options pension wise and who does not want to sell me anything" - Janiren E SX
"I work as a Health Visitor and smoking cessation specialist Nurse for West Sussex PCT. I was 60 last December and tried to go part-time, however I was told with all the changes going on I would have to hand in my notice and then reapply for a 3-days-a-week post. It would be advertised as a high grade Nurse so I might well not get the job in the surgery I have worked at for the past 14yrs. I have carried on working full-time and am just about to go off for 2 months sick leave as I have got to have 2 ops. I intend to look carefully at my options on my return. A lot my HV collegues are taking early retirment and the smoking cessation service which a collegue and I set up 5 yrs ago is folding with lack of funds just when the national ban is starting on July 1st, madness!"- Anne Evans
"Planning to retire at age 60 - just 2 years to go! Currently working as a practice nurse and enjoying it (mostly)" - Name and address supplied
"I started nursing in 1974 and have been working without a break in nursing since then. I need sound easy advice on retirement. I would love to go part-time and I know superannuation is an excellent scheme but how to know if part-time now is a good idea. When I asked for advice i received lots of paperwork but all I wanted was to speak to someone who was not trying to sell me anything" - Name and address supplied
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