Report from webinair “The Future of Intercultural Elderly Care: Looking back to move forward

Are robots part of the solution to help us care for the superdiverse older populations of the future?

During our Webinar ‘The Future of Intercultural Elderly Care: Looking back to move forward” a group of 25 people from the field of practice and from academia met to discuss what we have learnt from the past decade, what the challenges are ahead, and what possibilities we see in the future.

Our experts in the first half shared what they have learnt in the last decades of intercultural care. Ute told us how “keeping doing” intercultural care needs constant attention from management, and a willingness to deal with and solve conflict. While in the past, the challenge to bridge differences and meet diverse needs was the diversity of the older people. Today, the challenge is the diversity of the staff. Carolien Smits shared with us how academic research has grown from a marginal to a well established field. While it used to be studies about migrants, there is now much more research together with migrants themselves – a very positive development!

Both experts point out that they have finally realised in the network that they are not working on the theme alone .Over the years, aspects of intercultural care for the elderly have evolved, for example, the experience of discrimination against professionals has become more visible because they have started to talk about it publicly. With the focus of the future Care institutions  have a responsibility to improve diversity and inclusion for patients and professionals alike. Diversity and inclusion efforts can significantly enhance professionals experiences from various workplace backgrounds, helping attract qualified associates to work for an organization and retain high-performing associates. A diverse staff also helps patients from underrepresented backgrounds to feel more comfortable during their hospital stay. Diversity and inclusion directly impact patient health outcomes and quality of life.

During the break our groups, members and guests shared what they see as future challenges and opportunities in intercultural care. We learnt about the potential of friendly robots to interpret in care settings from Henk Middelkoop, the resilience of communities of older refugees in Finland by Farzaneh Hatami Landi and the challenges of meeting the needs of increasingly diverse groups of older migrants in Brussels Olivia Vanmechelen

In the second panel discussion, Cynthia van Thiel shared how knowledge centers continue to develop tools and strategies both to help organisations become more diversity sensitive and to help them battle discrimination and racism. Hanna Carlsson (Murray-Carlsson) raised the issue of ageing populations and labour shortages. Care has always been undervalued -and the care crisis ahead is both a risk and an opportunity. There is a risk that we simply lose attention to intercultural care among the many care crisis issues we face. At the same time, there might be the opportunity to care more about care. As care get more scarce, and the need for it becomes more visible – we as ENIEC can use this as an opportunity to advocate for inclusive care.