Migrant workers in the home care sector: What can we learn from the Israeli experience?

For the first time in recorded history, older adults outnumber children – an astonishing population trend that has been dubbed “the silver tsunami”. A caregiving crisis of global proportions is looming, as families and professionals are woefully unprepared to care for this unprecedented ageing population. Israel is a forerunner of a growing global response, and rely on migrant home care workers to care for its older citizens who need constant supervision. While this arrangement is financially cost-effective, it entails other costs. Many of the migrant care workers are not aware of their workers’ rights, and suffer from deliberate and undeliberate exploitation, as well as poor working conditions. It is also very common for the worker to experience depression and loneliness, and a disturbing number of workers report suicidal thoughts or behaviour.
In the first part of the lecture, I will present findings on the exposure of migrant care workers to abuse and exploitation and their willingness to report victimisation. In the second part, I will describe the new behavioural-activation group intervention that was recently piloted and soon will be scaled up by developing an online version. This intervention promises to reduce stress and boost the well-being of both workers and care recipients, and may delay expensive institutional placements which will allow older adults to stay in their homes as they wish and aspire for.