New Series: Older workers, Technology and Stereotyping (Part 3)

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Mandy works for NSW Health and has been a nurse for 30 years, at nearly 50 she loves technology (when it works). She chatted to us about her experiences with the stereotypes towards older nurses.

What is the general feeling toward older mature nurses/midwives in your workplace?

I think that younger people think some older nurses are great, and others are old, tired and unenthusiastic. We can be really helpful or really difficult. We can be very opinionated, stand up for the patients well or just “ride the juniors.” Yes…this still happens. But I’d like to think there is a massive improvement in this regard compared to when I started nursing in the 70’s and 80’s! We have a lot of senior staff on our ward. Most of us don’t want to be cns’s anymore, or be in-charge. We want to go to work and come home without too many hassles. And we’d prefer to be on holidays rather than pursuing uni degrees. It’s interesting that if you are not ambitious then a lot of management manipulation disappears!

Do you think older workers are under pressure to prove that they still ‘measure up’?

I don’t think there is any pressure on older workers. You have to keep up with technology but changes occur in my workplace every day so I think I’m used to it! so are the majority of older staff. I think it might be different in aged care facilities? But in NSW health it is ‘every day is something new’ approach!

Do older/more experienced workers have a larger workload?

I think older, more experienced workers definitely have a bigger workload. The experienced staff always work with the unendorsed enrolled nurses and that increases workload, or we have the heaviest and most complicated patients, and we are the resource people. However, our time management is generally better (but not always!)

What would help these older workers feel more valued?

This is a tricky one. Being able to access reasonable study leave would help a great deal, because at the moment it’s so hard we’ve all given up on conferences and stuff. A good self-roster system is great and access to annual leave goes a long way to improving morale.

What special skills would help older workers feel more confident?

In NSW health in the bigger facilities we have good access to training. I think this is poor in the peripheral hospitals and could be greatly improved, especially with tele-conferencing.

In an ideal world – what would you like to see change?

The best thing would be a reasonable staff/ patient ratio. It is the basis of all our morale issues!

Does stereotyping happen in your hospital? Or are older workers well respected for their wealth of knowledge?

We’d be very interested to know your comments. Leave them below or email us at nurseuncut at nswnma.asn.au

Image credit: NSWNA

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