Covid-19, migrant workers and the resilience of social care in Europe

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Series Details Volume 2020/4, 4
Publication Date 2020


The Covid-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of social care. In many countries, social care occupations have been put on lists of ‘essential occupations’, meaning that workers in these occupations were exempted from lockdown restrictions in order to facilitate continuity of care. Some of these care workers have witnessed the dramatic death toll of the corona virus in nursing homes, while also facing increased risks themselves (ILO, 2020a). In many European countries, migrant workers are an important part of the social care workforce. This piece explores how this reliance on migrant workers relates to the resilience of social care provision during adverse circumstances. Following OECD (2020), resilience is understood as ‘the ability to withstand, recover from, and adapt to unexpected external shocks’. The focus of this preliminary analysis is on non-medical care for elderly and disabled in Western Europe, including both care provided in the home of the recipient and in institutions, such as nursing homes. It also gives some attention to domestic work, meaning activities like cleaning or cooking, because the boundary between domestic work and care work is often blurry.

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