Migrant Care Workers (MCWs) in UK,
Germany & Italy
Migrant Care Workers (MCWs) in UK, Germany & Italy: a comparative analysis of quantitative data & public policies on migration
Older people and their informal carers often rely on the support of paid personal assistants, informal caregivers, or migrant care workers (MCWs), who are privately hired by the older person or his/her family, for carrying out in-house personal care, home management, and other tasks of daily living. Over one out of ten households with a dependent member rely on their help, especially among the 75+ population living alone when the presence of private personal assistants reaches 58% daily frequency.
Migrant care workers are frequently hired by many private households to support their older members – they are an entirely “invisible” component of long-term care LTC, despite their crucial help for most demanding cases. Moreover, MCWs usually come from low- and middle-income countries (e.g., Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Philippines, and South America) and find employment in higher-income countries (e.g., UK & Germany).
In addition to this long standing trend, LTC systems worldwide have been exposed to the COVID-19 pandemic in the last year and a half. Apart from strictly epidemiological aspects, this pandemic has paralyzed LTC systems and brought hospital, residential, and home care to its knees in most EU countries and beyond, due to the suspension or reduction of most services targeting older people, and heavily affecting also their mental health and quality of life. However, although informal MCWs are acknowledged as ‘key care partners’ of European LTC systems, they often care at the invisible level of health and social care systems. Moreover, they continue to be ‘unseen’ throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Moreover, the current war in Ukraine is resulting in a rapid increase in migration, especially by women, and is therefore likely to further increase the presence of migrant care workers in other countries, also beyond those in which Ukrainian care workers are already present in remarkable numbers, such as Poland, Germany, UK and Italy.
This short study aims to analyse (1) to what extent different countries (UK, Germany & Italy) benefit from the contribution of migrant care workers in addressing the LTC needs of their frail aging populations. Moreover, it aims to analyse, (2) what source countries of these migrants face the challenges due to these outflows of care workforce. Secondary research focuses on the question, (3) how can the perspectives of both destination (e.g., UK, Germany & Italy) and source countries (e.g., Poland, Romania, Bulgaria & Ukraine) be better harmonized by adopting a well-balanced, supranationally approach. Therefore, the principal aim of the presented study is (4) to better recognize the key contribution of migrant care workers and find ways to a sustainable structure and inclusion of MCWs in caring communities of the considered countries.
The above research questions are addressed using a mixed-methods approach, integrated with a dissemination action. On the one hand, (1) this is based on the analysis of quantitative secondary data from institutional sources and, on the other hand, (2) on a qualitative investigation of the (inter-)national public policies on migration and social integration and social security of MCWs. Results will be (3) triangulated to define (inter) national best practices and formulate recommendations for policy and practice. The project will be developed by means of the following Working Packages (WPs):
- WP1 Quantitative Analysis,
- WP2 Qualitative content analysis,
- WP3 Identification of good practices & dissemination of policy recommendations.
The project will significantly impact the areas addressed by this research field. The updated, in-depth information it will deliver on neglected MCWs groups who have been heavily bearing the burden of the aging phenomenon as primary deliverers of care to the rapidly growing number of frail older people will be strategic to inform future policies in this field.
“The ECAS has given us a great scientific impulse to approach and deepen a common topic scientifically. Yes, of course, scientific collaborations can be conducted purely digitally nowadays. Still, the opportunity to work side by side over several months makes our project more accessible and more pleasant to implement.”
Francesca is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Glasgow. She has carried out comparative research work on migrant care workers, migrant churches, and gender and anti-immigration mobilizations. Among her recent publications: ‘Migrant Masculinities In-between Private and Public Spaces of Reproductive Labour: Asian Porters in Rome’ (co-authored with E. Gallo), Gender, Place & Culture 26(11) 2019, ‘Beyond “Women’s Work”: Gender, Ethnicity, and the Management of Paid Care Work in Non-profit Domiciliary Services in Italy’, Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies 17(4) 2019, and Migration, Masculinities and Reproductive Labour. Men of the Home, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan (2016), co-authored with Ester Gallo.
Andrea studied sociology in Italy and Germany. After graduating in sociology, he gained a postgraduate Master in Public Health at the Charité, Universitäts-medizin Berlin and completed his PhD in 2016. Subsequently, he moved to the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s national centre for disease, with a postdoctoral position. Since 2017, he has been junior-professor in gerontology at the University of Vechta in Lower Saxony, where his research focuses on informal caregiving and migrant care work.