Ageing on the Frontlines: Examining the Experiences of Older Frontline Healthcare Workers in Singapore General Hospital during the COVID-19 Pandemic*Corresponding Author:
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Objectives: The first aim of this study was to understand the psychosocial impacts faced by our older healthcare frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic in Singapore General Hospital. Secondly, we hoped to explore the issues faced by an ageing healthcare workforce and recommend improvements in daily operations for future health crisis. Lastly, we wanted to analyse ageist attitudes and misconceptions of being an older adult and recommend future changes in organizational policies. Methods: This is a mixed-methods cross sectional survey. A self-designed questionnaire was developed by the study team through Form SG. It consists of 9 open and 45 closed ended questions. Data was collected during the months of December 2020 and January 2021. Healthcare workers aged 62 years old and above were eligible to participate in this study by scanning a QR code or via weblink. Results: Participants had expressed mixed-feelings while working during the COVID-19 pandemic such as uncertainty (75%), anxiety (58%), fear (42%), stress (25%), and sadness (25%). 75% of the participants went on to acknowledge that due to their job, their loved ones would be at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. Similarly, 75% responded that they were determined to do their duty as a frontline healthcare worker despite fears of being diagnosed with COVID-19 present amongst 33% of the participants. 25% of participants felt motivated to be a frontline healthcare worker with no reports of any form of discrimination from the public. 92% of the participants were aware that due to their age, they stood a much higher chance of contracting COVID-19 and had not considered being deployed to a lower risk area in fears of their health. All participants had taken part in the annual flu vaccination program, with 58% of responses indicating they believe the annual flu vaccination can prevent them from contracting COVID-19. Conclusion: Older adults bring forth a wealth of experiences in any organization, however, as much experience as there may be, the ageing process is also accompanied by a myriad of complex challenges. Having a strong social, professional, and familial support have allowed the older adults to tide through this pandemic psychosocially. It is of utmost importance to understand the strengths and unique challenges that comes with working in an intergenerational workforce, despite so the intergenerational economy can flourish with proper management skills and job re-designing, re-tooling and re-skilling resources to ensure the right fit to employability skills and staff loyalty. Moreover, even younger staff will age through time.