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Keeping our nurses engaged: combatting an ageing workforce

“My kids will kill me for this,” Dan Levitt told the nurses in the crowd at his Australian Healthcare Week talk.

“DAY-OH” he sings. The tickled crowd responds in kind.

“DAYYYY-OOOHHH,” he continues and goes on to complete the attempt at a Freddie Mercury impression.

Nobody is quite sure why he has done this, but he is an engaging speaker, and engagement is a recurring theme in his talk on the global challenge we face as the nursing workforce ages.

One way the nursing sector can retain nurses as well as attract people to the profession is to keep them engaged, happy in their job and looking forward to the start of every day, he says.

Levitt, a professor, writer and gerontologist, is concerned that in a world where we have more seniors than children and approximately one quarter of nurses worldwide will leave the workforce in five years, workplaces are not putting enough effort into their culture.

He is also concerned with the ways that we can make nursing an attractive occupation. Investing in nurse education is one way Levitt believes we can keep nurses in the job, as well as looking to develop trust in the leadership teams – nurses often leave jobs because of their bosses, he tells the crowd.

Combatting workforce shortages by accommodating older nurses with more flexible schedules is another fix that he suggests.

Levitt, the executive director at Tabor Village aged care facility in Canada, talks extensively on societal attitudes towards ageing.

He wants us all to think about the way in which we speak about older citizens and what we think older people are capable of. You can hear those views on rethinking ageing in his TEDx talk below.

Aged Care Insite caught up with with Levitt after he spoke to hear more about ways to fill the nursing ranks.

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One comment

  1. I have an old book (dated 1945) titled “Why no nurses”. The book deals with the problems facing the health care system in the UK. Many of the same issues that were being raised then regarding recruitment and retention of the nursing workforce are still valid now: overwork, emotionally and physically taxing, unsocialable hours, competition from new professional opportunities for women, problems attracting other groups (e.g. men) and so on.
    My nursing colleagues all joke about never being able to retire, we’ll go from nursing others to nursing ourselves!! Isn’t there an old saying that those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it.

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