Domestic Care Work: Problems and Requests Emerging from the ‘Triangle of Care’

Anno LV, n. 229, settembre-dicembre 2020

Anno LV, n. 229, settembre-dicembre 2020
Centro Einaudi
Articolo completo/Full text


In Italy, like in many post-industrial societies, eldercare has gone through a profound transformation. Today, the elderly are increasingly assisted in their homes by external workers, who often hail from abroad. Many scholars tend to see this eldercare arrangement, also named ‘migrant-in-the-family model’, as intrinsically inegalitarian. Within this context, we look at three intertwining questions: the disposition toward alternative forms of eldercare; the main issues emerging within the ‘migrant-in-the-family’ model; and the possibility of revising the eldercare model. To address these questions, we built on an archive of in-depth interviews within the so-called ‘triangle of care’ – care managers, the elderly care recipients, and migrant domestic eldercare workers. Our findings reveal that the elderly home care, via the ‘migrant-in-the-family’ model, still remains the preferred approach to providing long-term care in Italy. Though bedevilled with problems, domestic eldercare represents a strategic choice for Italian families as well as migrant workers. Based on the findings emerging from the study, we proffer four practical policy recommendations to improve the model in the future: better and easier financial assistance; increasing the role of the welfare state; introducing holistic help-desks; and reviewing policies on qualification and its valorization.