My Fair Home carers mark International Domestic Workers Day
On the 16th June, Ireland and the entire world celebrated International Domestic Workers Day (IDWD), the 9th anniversary of the adoption of the International Labour Organisation Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers.
To celebrate IDWD, and to shine a light on this fundamental contribution migrant carers make to Irish Society, we asked some of our members in My Fair Home* to send a message and tell us why they are proud of their work.
Reggie, as he is known by his friends, has been living in Ireland for the past twelve years. He works as a live-in carer and describes his job as very rewarding, caring for his clients as if they were his own family. Reggie says, ‘‘I believe in good karma, if I take good care of my clients my hope is that my own parents back home are well cared for”.
Reggie takes a lot of pride in his work and remarks that care work is ‘not a job for everyone’, as it can be challenging at times. Reggie’s own father passed away last year on St Patrick’s day, and he was unable to travel back home for the funeral. But he sought comfort in the support of his Filipino community here in Ireland.
Jacky Amores has been living and working in Ireland for the past seven years, and like Reggie, she also works as a live-in carer. She speaks of her work with much pride and affection: “caregiving is a moral task and that involves being there for the person you mind and being committed. Every day I wake them up and get them dressed, I brush their hair so that they look their best. I make their bed and wash their clothes. I prepare their meals and give their medication. I give them the full care”.
She continues, “As a carer I am happy to take care of my client and give them my love and treat them as my own parents. I am proud to be a carer because by taking care of them I can help them to be comfortable, to be happy and to feel safe. Because they know that I am taking good care of them, not only the person I mind, but also their children who don’t have time to mind their parents, so that they feel comfortable that I’m taking care of their parents”.
Allan, who has lived and worked in Ireland for eleven years, says that “I know it’s a noble job, as I am able to give quality of life and a safe environment to elderly people here in Ireland. We fill in the gap of care, love, attention and company for vulnerable individuals. I’m happy to see them still living with dignity in their own home”.
Many migrant carers love their work and are deeply connected to the person they care for. They are our frontline workers who show up every day despite having concerns for their own safety and the safety of their own families.
These men and women have made cocooning possible especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, looking after our loved ones and making their lives more comfortable and dignified. At the same time many of them face an uncertain future. Some are undocumented and many have very precarious employment, with low pay and poor working conditions.
As a member of My Fair Home, my hope is that migrant domestic workers emerge as the unsung heroes in this pandemic, by keeping our older people safe and cared for. Currently over 7,000 people are on HSE waiting lists for home care services. Demand for home care services is expected to increase by 66% by 2030. Right now we are failing workers, families and older people. The draft Programme for Government has welcome commitments to regularise undocumented workers and to introduce a new statutory homecare scheme for older people. We hope that these will be given urgent attention when the new government forms. My Fair Home will be watching closely and we are just getting organised.
Linda Gloria Keitasha – Care Development Worker MRCI
*My Fair Home is a group set up by migrant home care workers and the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) to improve the lives and working conditions of carers in Ireland. This Network provides a safe space for members to come together collectively to share their experiences of working in the home care sector.
Our members come from diverse backgrounds, some are ‘live-in’ carers; others work for agencies and many are undocumented. Members take real pride in the work that they do and are very passionate about caring for people and creating meaningful connections with the person they work with