Foreign carers face racism, long hours and poor wages
Foreign care staff working here experience racial discrimination and are paid lower wages than their Irish counterparts, according to a charity report.
It cites cases where agency staff were rejected by the elderly people they were caring for on the basis of their skin colour.
It also found foreign care staff were often working without a contract of employment and being paid less than the minimum wage.
In one case highlighted by the Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland (MRCI) report, a carer from Mauritius, employed by an agency, was refused access to the home of a client because she was not white. Although she complained her employer, it was not followed up.
The European Commission-funded research involved interviews with up to 80 migrants working in the home- care sector in Ireland.
The MRCI, a registered charity providing advice and supports to foreign migrants, said its findings demonstrated "a crucial need to regulate home-care providers to ensure consistent standards of care delivery and quality working conditions".
Its report said the fact the Fair Deal Scheme, which financially assists nursing home stays, did not extend to care in the home had led to "a flourishing informal home-care sector".
While there was no official data, the report said a significant proportion of elder care in private homes was informal, undeclared and provided by undocumented migrant workers.
According to the MRCI's research, migrant care workers experienced "high levels of exploitation, poor terms and conditions, contractual issues, racism and discrimination, particularly for black and ethnic minority workers".
It found: "In a highly competitive market, workers are reluctant to assert their rights for fear of losing their positions.
"Migrant workers experience a heightened risk of racism and discrimination as clients or families exercise a choice to discriminate, refusing services from workers based on their race, skin colour and ethnicity."
The report, 'Migrant Workers in the Home Care Sector: Preparing for the Elder Boom in Ireland', concluded that pressure for companies to secure business at the lowest possible cost was "feeding a race to the bottom."