Support needed for migrants working with elderly, report finds

THE quality of care for older people is suffering because of the lack of support for foreign nationals who now account for one third of all workers who help the elderly.

A new report highlights a number of concerns with migrant carers and the elderly, including problems with communication, cultural understanding and training.

The research warns that failures to properly integrate migrant workers into the health sector will affect the standards of care.

The work by researchers at NUI Galway found that migrants who work as nurses and care assistants now account for one in three of the Irish older adult care workforce. This is twice the proportion of foreign carers in the general health sector.

Author Dr Kieran Walsh said: “Both employers and older people recognise the contribution that foreign nurses and care assistants are making to the care of older people.

“Nevertheless, if issues internal to older adult care are not addressed then retaining this valuable group of workers will become increasingly difficult”.

Launching the report, Minister for Older People Áine Brady pledged that its findings would be studied by her department.

The research comes as groups yesterday launched Ireland’s positive ageing week. Events being held nationwide include dancing, singing, sport, self-defence classes and even a computer Nintendo Wii Olympic night.

More than 600 activities will be held over the week, the group Age Action announced.

Launching the week, President Mary McAleese said that the years of later life, which previously tended to be associated with images of decline and passivity, now had been replaced with new concepts like autonomy, well-being and activity.

The elderly also knew a lot about economic hardship, which today’s younger generation were now experiencing, added Ms McAleese.

“The words ‘recession’, ‘emigration’ and ‘unemployment’ were familiar to today’s older generation for much of their lives. They also hear the worried and disappointed voices of a new generation facing serious economic difficulties for the first time and the wisdom, resilience, self-sufficiency and success stories of our older citizens distil into a valuable well from which to draw courage and inspiration.

“If ever there was a time for age action, this is surely it.”

- www.ageaction.ie.

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