Culture-sensitive care ambassadors in Brussels 

The gap between elderly migrants and homecare services

Flemish homecare services in Brussels still receive few questions from seniors with a migrant background, living in multicultural neighbourhoods. They need care, but do not know the offer or do not ask the question. At the same time, professional homecare workers are less familiar with that super-diverse context or they don’t feel comfortable with it. There is therefore a gap between the supply and the needs of the older migrants.

    1. Facts …
  • 70% of the population of Brussels have a migration background.
  • One third of the elderly are of non-Belgian origin.
  • The Flemish homecare services perform barely 5% of their hours of family care in Brussels with clients with a migrant background.

On the other hand, there are many low skilled jobseekers with migrant roots and with (informal care) experience, willing to work as a care professional. But this potential is underused, while their talents and backgrounds could be a strength to gain the trust of elderly migrants in their community and help to provide more appropriate care to these families.

    1. Concrete solutions, based on needs

What can homecare organizations do to win the trust of seniors in these multicultural neighbourhoods? (How) can low-skilled jobseekers with a migrant background be involved as professional caregivers in their community?
These were the key questions of the project ‘Culture-Sensitive Care Ambassadors’. The aim was to improve the quality of the service and to find concrete solutions based on the needs of the elderly migrant users. The project had two parallel processes: for the job-seeker with informal care experience, we developed a learning-working trajectory into a culture-sensitive health care ambassador. The health care professionals of the home care services received a training in culture- sensitive care.

    1. To be continued …

The project was funded by the European Social Fund ESF and run for one year in a collaboration between EVAvzw, Kenniscentrum WWZ and VUB-Belgian Ageing Studies. The results were presented for discussion on 24 October 2017 to a broad network of policymakers in care and employment policy, managers and operational partners. ENIEC members Saloua Berdai and Olivia Vanmechelen took part in the debate. 

Now, we hope we’ll have the funds to continue this work in a larger transnational cooperation . A new application was made by the same consortium, based on 3 axes:

  • Valorisation of the skills  (migrant) jobseekers already built up as informal carer or care worker in their country of origin,… ;
  • Create alternative learning paths and new low-skilled job in elderly care;
  • Improve the intercultural competences  and the organisation of homecare services to encounter the needs of elderly migrants as ‘new’ clients.

Preparing the application at the ESF for a transnational collaboration, we had contacts with several ENIEC members and organisation in Europe, from Finland, over the Netherlands and Germany to Italy.  Special thanks goes to Frederic Hausscher from the Frankfurter Verband for his quick  response.

    1. Read and watch more!
Titel Culture-sensitive care ambassadors in Brussels
Author Olivia Vanmechelen

Country Belgium
Year 2017
Category Practice, Training, Program development
Topic Ageing , Care, Home Care Services, caregivers
Subject Value of caregivers with migrant background,
Source DECEMBER 2017 EDITION no. 85