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Who Cares? The Experience of Migrant Care Workers in Ireland

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Introduction

The purpose of this paper is to document a needs analysis conducted by MRCI of the situation of migrant care workers undertaking care work with older persons in the private homes and in private residential care settings.

Over the last decade MRCI, through its work with domestic workers, identfied an increasing trend of these workers taking up positions in the care sector. Trends also indicate that migrant workers will continue to play a significant role in the care sector into the future. These factors combined informed the need to develop an overall picture of the experience of migrant care workers.

The project was an initial needs analysis to gain an insight into the experience of migrant care workers. Rather than drawing a definitive set of conclusions, this paper sets the ground work for future activities in this area. It will be further developed and shaped by discussions with care sector organisations, bodies such as the Equality Authority and the Human Rights Commission, Health Service Executive, Health Information and Safety Authority, the Trade Union Movement and other stakeholders.

It is a growing area of concern that there are potential tensions between the rights of workers and the demand for affordable care. This study attempts to explore this on a more in-depth level within an equality and human rights framework. MRCI believes that care services or supports should be underpinned by Ireland's equality and human rights commitments enshrined in the Irish constitution, Equality Legislation, EU Law and international human rights instruments. Consequently, the equality and human rights of all care workers including migrants should be upheld. It is within this framework that this paper is situated.

This paper sets out the current context, methodology, findings, conclusions and recommendations from the study. It seeks to develop a picture of the experiences of migrant care workers and strategies to address the issues raised.

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