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Healthy work environments for the ageing nursing workforce


  • Jaynelle F. Stichler DNSc, NEA-BC, FACHE, FAAN

    Professor Emerita, Consultant for Research and Professional Development, Co-Editor, Corresponding author
    1. San Diego State University, San Diego, CA, USA
    2. Sharp Memorial and Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women and Newborns, San Diego, CA, USA
    3. Health Environments Research & Design (HERD) Journals
    • Correspondence

      Jaynelle F. Stichler

      PO Box 28278

      San Diego

      CA 92198



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The aim of this article is to describe the physical challenges that ageing nurses experience and the facility design features that can promote healthy work environments to motivate nurses to continue working.


Older nurses are working longer and beyond the usual retirement age. They often experience chronic fatigue and the usual physical and cognitive changes associated with aging. Nursing is a physically demanding profession and many older nurses work in pain while providing direct patient care. The literature is replete with studies focusing on the organisational factors that retain older nurses, but little research addresses design factors that facilitate nurses working longer and more safely in direct patient care.


Electronic databases in medicine, nursing, psychology, and architecture were searched and evidence-based, non-evidence-based, and review articles and government and organisational newsletters were evaluated.

Key Issues

Hospital design can help address the physical work challenges that older nurses experience.


Older nurses have a wealth of knowledge and expertise, and the design of nursing units can optimize their work experience.

Implications for nursing management

Nurse Managers must participate in design efforts and advocate designs that support aging nurses.

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