The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Working Lives and Retirement Timing of Older Nurses in Ireland

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This article draws on interviews with 16 female and nine male older nurses in Ireland in 2021 and asks what effect the pandemic has had on their working conditions and retirement intentions.

It finds that while some responded positively to the pandemic, some experienced adverse health impacts, stress and exhaustion and many of the women nurses decided to retire early as a result.

In Ireland, the pandemic has highlighted significant under-investment over many years in the hospital and long-term care system, the research finds.

While most men in the study say the pandemic has not affect their retirement decisions, by contrast nine of the 16 women say it did, with most of these saying it has made them want to retire earlier. Their reasons include concern about the impact of COVID-19 on their own health, and concern about infecting family members for whom they provide care.

Additional psychological supports for staff, including peer clinical debriefing, would address some of the concerns contributing to the decisions of older workers to leave the workforce prematurely.