Everyday ethical challenges in the context of older adult residential care provided by migrant care givers in the UK
Kumeri joined the Ethox Centre as a DPhil candidate in Population Health in October 2020. Her work is supported by the Nuffield Department of Population Health, and she is supervised by Professor Michael Dunn, Professor Ruth Horn, and Dr Caroline Potter. Before commencing her DPhil studies, Kumeri earned her MPhil in Visual, Material, and Museum Anthropology from the University of Oxford in 2020. Prior to this, she earned her BA in Social Anthropology, and Romance Languages and Literatures (joint degree) from Harvard University in 2018.
Kumeri’s current research focuses on everyday ethical challenges in the context of older adult residential care provided by migrant care givers in the UK. The UK is currently struggling to provide adequate and appropriate assistance to an ageing population consisting of nearly 12 million adults aged 65 and above. Owing to the unappealing characteristics of the job—minimum wages, long hours, and harsh working conditions—many UK-born citizens refrain from joining the older adult care workforce. This gap in labour is increasingly filled by migrants. The increasing interactions between migrant care workers and native older adults introduce everyday ethical challenges that are relatively unexplored in health and social care services research.
Preliminary research Kumeri conducted in Epsom in 2019 suggests that migrants may be faced with everyday ethical challenges such as dealing with racism, conscientious objecting of certain requests made by older adults, struggling with language when following training and defending themselves against exploitative managers, and carrying the burden of being a translator to fellow migrant colleagues. Such ethical challenges often lead to abuse within caring relationships. While there is some social sciences literature on the struggles faced by migrant older adult care workers in the UK, there is limited bioethics work that explicitly explores “everyday ethical challenges” these care workers face in residential care. There is also a need to study how migrants currently deal with such ethical challenges and what ought to be done on an individual, institutional, and structural level to provide them with appropriate support to navigate challenges.