[PDF] Nurses working in mid-life

National Nursing Research Unit
National Nursing Research Unit (NNRU)
Publication date:
28 February 2007


The shortage of a skilled workforce, especially in London, is a key challenge to the modernisation of health care delivery. The so called ‘greying’ of the nursing workforce and the projected increases in levels of early retirement add to concerns about future nursing shortages.

This exploratory study focused on qualified and unqualified nurses working in mid-life (45 ) in two different organizational contexts one in an acute setting and one in the community.

Summary of findings

  • Older nurses are increasingly important to the current nursing workforce and will be a substantial part of the future nursing workforce. Investment needs to occur now
  • This research suggests that nurses haven’t really thought through their retirement plans so there appears to be an opportunity to influence their choices through the local implementation of retirement initiatives. These initiatives need to be attractive and must emphasise the benefits of remaining at work after retirement, whilst at the same time conveying value to the individual
  • In both case study sites commitment was high. This is an important factor, which could be used in devising strategies to encourage older nurses to stay beyond retirement.
  • Although there are similarities in the working lives of nurses at all ages (e.g. role conflict), the findings across both case-study sites suggest that older nurses have specific needs that are not the same as other nursing staff. For example, age did not seem a barrier to further training, but the limited range of courses did limit the professional development of older nurses.
  • This study found widespread dissatisfaction with the implementation of Agenda for Change and career progression and grade structure under Agenda for Change.