Supporting people with disabilities to transition to retirement

2 December 2011

A new resource designed to help older people with a disability to make the transition from work to retirement is a key output of a translational ARC Linkage Research Project led by Associate Professor Roger Stancliffe in collaboration with the Australian Foundation for Disability (AFFORD).

The objective of the Transition to Retirement project was to support older people with a lifelong disability to experience an active and inclusive retirement.

Professor Roger Stancliffe suggests that people with disability, particularly intellectual disability, are now living longer, which is very positive however presents new challenges as these individuals approach retirement age.

'There is really no clear policy or clear range of paths for people to follow to develop a retirement lifestyle so we are offering one alternative to assist people to gradually begin to develop a retirement lifestyle as they ease out of their full time sheltered employment."

To achieve this, the research team tested a novel intervention that saw participants swap or drop one day of work a week in order to join a local mainstream community group or volunteering opportunity of their choice with support from trained mentors who are already members of their chosen group.

Led by Associate Professor Stancliffe the research team - comprising Dr Nathan Wilson of the University of Sydney, Professor Chris Bigby and Ms Diane Craig of La Trobe University and Professor Susan Balandin from Molde University College, Norway - saw very positive results in the participants who took part in the pilot.

The DVD resource titled 'Transition to Retirement' was recently launched by the Hon Andrew Constance MP, Minister for Ageing and Minister for Disability Services at an event hosted by the Sydney-based ARC-Linkage partner, the Australian Foundation for Disability in Penrith.

The DVD resource includes the stories of six people who took part in the trial. These stories provide a user-friendly and easily understood depiction of the approach that can be used by practitioners to illustrate to other people with a disability, and their families, what is possible in retirement with the right level of support.

Transition to Retirement also provides an excellent teaching resource on topics such as disability, ageing, retirement, volunteering and social inclusion. The DVD and commentary from the researchers is available via the AFFORD website.

There are over 8,600 people with a disability in NSW in supported employment and preparing for retirement can be a daunting prospect," Mr Constance said.

"This new resource will help people with a disability and service providers identify opportunities and overcome barriers that can confront them when they leave the workforce."