Exploring new threats of COVID-19 in the LTC migrant carer workforce: a conceptual comparative framework and cross-country analysis of selected EU countries

Presenter: Ellen Kuhlmann (Hannover Medical School)

Abstract for the International workshop on COVID-19 and Long-Term Care systems: What have we learnt and what policies do we need to strengthen LTC systems?, 6 and 7th December 2021

Watch the presentation (see 22:20):

Ellen Kuhlmann: LTC-COVID Workshop 6 – 7 December 2021


The long-term care (LTC) sector was strongly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and migrant healthcare workers are a particularly vulnerable group. This paper explores the developments from a health workforce perspective, aiming to highlight a need for trans-sectoral and European heath workforce governance. We applied an exploratory approach based on secondary sources, document analysis and expert information and developed a conceptual framework for data collection and comparative analysis, comprising four major dimensions: LTC system, LTC health labour market, LTC labour migration policies, and specific LTC migrant carer policies during the first wave of COVID-19 (March-May 2020). Material from Austria, Italy, Germany, Poland and Romania was included in the study. Results suggest that undersupply of carers coupled with cash-benefits and a culture of family responsibility may result in high inflows of migrant carers, who are channelled in low-level positions or the informal care sector. Covid-19 made the fragile labour market arrangements of migrant carers visible, which may create new health risks for both the individual carer and the population. Two important policy recommendations are emerging: to include LTC migrant carers more systematically in public health and health workforce research and to develop European health workforce governance which connects health system needs, health labour markets and the individual migrant carers.

Co-authors: Ellen Kuhlmann1, Michelle Falkenbach2, Kasia Klasa2, Emmanuele Pavolini3,Marius-Ionut Ungureanu4


Clinic for Rheumatology and Immunology, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany 

2 School of Public Health, University of Michigan, USA

 University of Macerata, Italy 

4 Department of Public Health, Faculty of Political, Administrative and Communication Sciences, Babe?-Bolyai University, Romania

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