By Sharon Gray
Helping older workers to remain in employment longer
Research team members (from left) Dr. Scott MacKinnon, Human Kinetics; Sue-Ann Anstey, PhD Student, Community Health and Humanities (Medicine); Dr. Lan Gien, Principal Investigator, Nursing; Dr. Sandra LeFort, Nursing, and Joanne Smith-Young, Research Co-ordinator, School of Nursing. Unavailable for photograph: Dr. Stephen Bornstein, NL Centre for Applied Health Research.
An interdisciplinary study being conducted in the School of Nursing is looking at ways to promote longer employment in workers over age 50.
"Many older Canadians quit working before 65 due to various reasons such as family obligations, health problems, transportation difficulties, changing demands of work, inflexible schedules and other personal reasons," explained Dr. Lan Gien, principal investigator for this project, which is funded for three years by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR).
"Many individuals of this age group would like to remain in employment longer as inactivity associated with retirement can lead to mental and physical illnesses which reduce the quality of life of the individuals, their family and increase health care cost."
Dr. Gien and her colleagues will talk with older workers in Newfoundland and Labrador to hear what they see as barriers and challenges for extending their work lives. "Based on this information we will suggest changes in the workplace or changes in existing policies to encourage older workers to remain in employment longer."
In this project Dr. Gien and her team will work closely with several senior groups so that their voices are heard. These groups include the Canadian Association for the Fifty Plus and the National Pensioners and Senior Citizens of Canada. Other partners include researchers from England, provincial government and the Seniors Resource Centre (SRC) who provides voluntary services in many locations of Newfoundland and Labrador to keep seniors healthy.
Findings and lessons learned from this project will be shared with all partners, senior groups, the general public and health care workers so that older workers can get the support they need to remain longer in the workforce if they so choose.
"This project will help older workers achieving their full potential and feeling good about themselves," said Dr. Gien. "As such they can remain healthy as they age and contain the cost to the health care system."
The research team is working with advisory committee members Kelly Heisz, the Seniors Resource Centre Association of NL; Don Holloway, NL Pensioners and Senior Citizens/50 Plus; Dr. Edgar Williams, Avalon-St. John’s Chapter, Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP); Karen Pollett, Workplace Health and Safety Compensation Commission; and Suzanne Brake, Division of Aging and Seniors, Government of NL.