Exploring Retirement


Welcome to the January 2014 edition of Exploring Retirement. Michael and I would like to wish all our readers a happy and prosperous New Year! Each month we provide articles on well-being in retirement and also feature an activity to explore. In this issue, our feature article looks at working part-time, whether you need to supplement your income or because you enjoy the activity and the social interaction. As well as providing a number of examples of part-time employment opportunities we are also featuring working as a "simulated patient", an example of paid role-play. We have included a short video clip to give you a flavour of what it's about.

Feedback from readers is welcomed, whether you want to add your thoughts on part-time working or share your experience of interesting part-time employment you have discovered since you retired. Please e-mail your comments to editor@exploringretirement.co.uk

Working Part-Time

"Cessation of work is not accompanied by cessation of expenses." - Cato the Elder (234-149BC)

It comes as a surprise to many people who are not retired that it is actually not at all unusual for retired people to continue to work on a part-time basis. This is particularly true of those who retire early. There are a number of reasons why people choose to work in this way:

  • To supplement their pension income
  • They miss the structured week that working provides
  • Missing the sense of belonging to a team
  • Wanting to keep physically and mentally active
  • Maintaining their sense of identity
  • Feeling that they are making a contribution
  • Having the opportunity to use their skills, knowledge and experience
Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in the UK (Over 50's require greater choice and control over work and retirement decisions) has found that substantial numbers would prefer to keep on working rather than retire completely, provided they could find work that would:
  • enable them to learn new things
  • give them a lot of freedom to decide how to do their own work
  • allow them to have a say in important decisions.

Clearly, as the Rowntree Foundation Report states "one size does not fit all". These findings highlight the disparity between the type of work that older people would like to do and what is frequently on offer. All too often the only jobs that are available to retired people are the lowly paid "shelf stacking" kind. Listed below are some examples of jobs that can provide more satisfaction and where the skills, experience and knowledge of older workers are welcomed and respected. These are just a few suggestions:

  • Art gallery manager
  • Consultant
  • Electoral canvasser
  • Film extra
  • Landlord/landlady
  • Mystery shopper
  • Respite shopkeeper
  • Role play (e.g. simulated patient)
  • Student support provider (note taking etc)
  • Shelf stacker
  • Survey interviewer
  • Tutor
  • Tour guide

For many more ideas on earning an income, try "Earning Money After You've Retired" by Rosie Stahl, published by White Ladder Press.

Professional Role Play

Many organisations use role play scenarios to train new staff who need to interact with members of the public in a professional manner. Examples would include trainee doctors and dentists, lawyers, nurses, opthalmic opticians, police officers and social workers. For this purpose they may recruit members of the public. Because the training is on an occasional basis, it is a type of work that is ideally suited to retired people. Role plays usually take place over a day and are paid (£10 per hour would be a typical rate).

The work is not onerous, usually you are required to learn your role from a brief outline of the scenario that is provided in advance. The most important thing, especially so in an examination context, is consistency of performance.

Many people derive a great deal of satisfaction from helping to train the next generation of young professionals. Role play is not necessarily entirely passive as you may well be asked to help assess the trainee in terms of such important qualities as politeness, empathy and communication skills. Throughout the emphasis is on realism, and you can be assured that the trainees will be a lot more nervous than you are!

Simulated Patient

In this short video Dr Gerry Gormley, Senior Lecturer in the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen's University, Belfast discusses the role of SP's (simulated patients) in the OSCE's (observed structured clinical examinations) and explains how they go about making the encounter as realistic as possible. Click on the image below.