Over 30 per cent of nurses planning to leave the profession in the next 12 months

Over 30 per cent of nurses planning to leave the profession in the next 12 months – how will this affect our aged care system? 

A survey of nurses and midwives[1] just released by the Monash University has found over 30 per cent of respondents were “likely or “very likely” to leave the job within the next year.

It sound much more likely than earlier figures that have estimated the turnover rate in nursing at three to six per cent every year.

It’s a major concern, especially when you realise the average age of the nurses in the study was 47, so many of them would already be planning to retire in the next ten years.

Under the pump

The study, which received responses from 3,000 people, also found the workloads for nurses had increased dramatically from the previous surveys held in 2011 and 2013.

Worryingly, over 70 per cent said they had more work than they could do well. This cause of this was attributed to shortages in staff as well as too much paperwork and an inappropriate skill mix amongst staff.

The respondents also stated they had trouble organising flexible working arrangements and getting management to deal with cases of harassment and heavy workloads.

“Such negative perceptions were most prevalent in New South Wales and in the areas of mental health, critical care and emergency, maternity care and aged care,” the researchers said.

Not enough say

While the survey also found that management had attempted to open up communication with staff since the last survey was completed, many nurses still felt they didn’t have any control in the day-to-day decision-making.

“Up to fifty four per cent of respondents were not confident of openly voicing their opinions and concerns due to fear of retribution,” the researchers added.

Another 45 per cent said their employer wasn’t investing enough in their further education and training.

No wonder the study concludes nurses are “overworked, overwhelmed and underappreciated.”

The future of nursing?

But with the number of older Australians set to skyrocket four-fold by 2047, we need more nurses in our hospitals and nursing homes now.

“Nurses need good support in their workplaces and we need targeted recruitment campaigns that focus on the benefits of working in aged care,” the CEO of the Australian College of Nursing, Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN says.

Without intervention, it’s predicted there will be a shortage of 123,000 nurses by 2030 – who will look after our frail and aged then?

[1]‘What Nurses & Midwives Want: Findings from the National Survey on Workplace Climate and Well-being’: Australian Consortium for Research on Employment and Work, Monash Business School – September 2016

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A special thanks to our contributors

Caroline Egan

DCM Media, agedcare101

Caroline has a wealth of experience writing within the retirement and aged care sector and is a contributing journalist for the Villages.com.au and agedcare101 blog and accompanying newsletters.

Ian Horswill


Ian is a journalist, writer and sub-editor for the aged care sector, working at The DCM Group. He writes for The Weekly Source, agedcare101, villages.com.au and the DCM Institute fortnightly newsletter Friday. Ian is in daily contact with CEOs of retirement living, land lease and the aged care operations and makes a new contact every week. He investigates media releases, LinkedIn and Facebook for a good source for ideas for stories.

Lauren Broomham

Retirement and Aged Care Journalist

Lauren is a journalist for villages.com.au, agedcare101 and The Donaldson Sisters. Growing up in a big family in small town communities, she has always had a love for the written word, joining her local library at the age of six months. With over eight years' experience in writing and editing, she is a keen follower of news and current affairs with a nose for a good story.

Jill Donaldson


Jill has been practicing as a clinical physiotherapist for 30 years. For the last 13 years she has worked solely in the Aged Care sector in more than 50 metropolitan and regional facilities. Jill has also toured care facilities in the US and Africa and is a passionate advocate for both the residents in aged care and the staff who care for them. She researches and writes for DCM Media.

Chris Baynes

DCM Media, agedcare101

Chris has been a journalist and publisher in the retirement village and aged care sectors for 11 years. He has visited over 250 retirement villages and 50 aged care facilities both within Australia and internationally. Chris is a regular speaker at industry conferences plus is a frequent radio commentator.

Annie Donaldson

Nurse and Carer

Annie has a long career in both nursing and the media. She has planned and co-ordinated the medical support from both international TV productions and major stadium events. In recent years she has been a primary family carer plus involved in structured carer support.