Age Action called for better training and effective workplace equality policies in residential care homes for older people, as it published a new report on migrant care workers today.
The report is based on research carried out with 13 care and nursing homes in north county Dublin, which involved managers, staff and residents from 13 different homes. It is now estimated that up to one in three care workers were born outside of Ireland.
Justin Moran, Head of Advocacy and Communications at Age Action, said: “It’s important to stress that among everyone – managers, staff and residents – there was a genuine appreciation for the benefits of new cultures and new ideas in the care home community.
“Employing nursing, care and other staff from different countries is a real opportunity for the nursing and care home sector.”
But the report also highlights serious problems, with staff in care homes reporting incidences of racism and challenges in adapting to Irish culture.
Among the 71 staff members from an ethnic minority background, 27 had experienced discrimination or racially motivated abuse and a further 38 had witnessed a colleague treated in this manner. In many cases no report was made to management.
Justin Moran continued: “Simply put, there is no acceptable level of racism. This research clearly shows that proper training and a robust equality policy can make an enormous difference.
“Intercultural training should be a mandatory part of professional development for all staff working in care homes. Staff and residents can initially struggle when they come from different backgrounds but our research shows these challenges can be overcome with the proper support.
“Care homes also need to put in place equality policies that provide support to those from minority cultures and contain agreed procedures for managing incidents of discrimination or racism.
“In one care home some staff believed there was an equality policy, others thought there wasn’t and still more simply didn’t know. This kind of confusion is part of the reason incidents of racism in care homes are not being reported.”