Push and pull: doctors deciding to leave the UK for New Zealand

Stephen MartineauStephen Martineau is a researcher at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit in the Policy Institute at King’s. (670 words)

The Social Care Workforce Research Unit (SCWRU) last week hosted a lecture by Robin Gauld of the University of Otago, New Zealand. Professor Gauld, who is 2014 NZ-UK Link Foundation Visiting Professor, presented new research (done with Dr Simon Horsburgh) on the migration of medical professionals from the UK to New Zealand. Audience members, who included the High Commissioner of New Zealand and the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Social Science and Public Policy at King’s, also heard formal responses from Stephen Bach (Dept of Management at King’s) and Jill Manthorpe, Director of SCWRU. Continue reading

The challenges of medical workforce migration between the UK and New Zealand

Prof Robin GauldOn 29 October 2014 the Social Care Workforce Research Unit at King’s hosts a seminar examining workforce migration in health and social care (places still available). Prof Jill Manthorpe, Director of the Unit, is joined by Prof Stephen Bach, Department of Management at King’s: they will be the formal respondents to a presentation given by Professor Robin Gauld who is the 2014 NZ-UK Link Foundation Visiting Professor. Here, Robin Gauld introduces his work, which focuses on health workforce migration between New Zealand and the UK. (531 words)

The week of 6 October saw significant media coverage in the UK of the 2014 State of Medical Education and Practice report by the General Medical Council. This indicated that around half of all migrating doctors are departing for the shores of Australia and New Zealand. One newspaper summed it up as: ‘…They cost us £610,000 to train – but 3,000 a year are leaving us for a life in the sun…‘. Continue reading

Mobility and the researcher today

Dr Kritika Samsi

Dr Kritika Samsi

Kritika Samsi, Research Fellow at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit at King’s College London, was recently invited by the Irish University Association to attend the Researcher Careers & Mobility Conference in Dublin on 14-15 May 2013 (hosted by the European Presidency). Here she reflects on mobility and what it means for researchers today.

The Researcher Careers & Mobility Conference was a packed 24 hours, combining plenary sessions, with panel discussions, and interactive workshop discussions. Informative, challenging and controversial, the conference brought up some significant issues affecting researchers in Europe and globally today.

In our workshop on the subject of Mobility, four types of mobility were identified – geographic, when the individual physically moves countries for opportunities elsewhere; virtual, when the individual engages in collaborative work with partners in different countries; inter-sector, when scientists from academia make the move to industry; multi-disciplinary, when scientists moves between different disciplines within or beyond one single field of study.

Instead of focusing on the question “why is mobility good?” – our workshop group chose to discuss “is mobility good?” – clearly highlighting our orientation, and our need to explore thoroughly whether mobility was always necessary, and whether funding bodies give it too much or too little weight.

Geographic mobility is a significant criterion in most EU funding applications – it is considered useful for the applicant to have had international experience, to demonstrate networks and links with international universities, and to show the ability and willingness to move to other countries for collaborative research in the future. This is, no doubt, a wonderful opportunity for many researchers and one that many embrace with open arms. Not surprisingly, most conference participants had experience with mobility and almost all talked positively about it, saying that they were greatly enriched by the experience. Current initiatives at European immigration level, such as the introduction of the scientific visa that fast-tracks scientists from outside the EU to enable them to work in EU universities and research labs in Europe, were seen as a good development in this regard.

We, however, questioned whether geographic mobility was always possible or valuable, for a number of reasons…

The practicalities of moving are enormous – from understanding differences in tax structures, pension arrangements, and setting up other formalities like bank accounts. Although Euraxess provide some very practical assistance with this, there are additional stressors to finding and setting up home again, getting a new driving licence, that individual researchers have to take on themselves. Getting used to another workplace culture and lifestyle also takes time. If the move is not permanent, we wondered whether the set up costs outweighed the benefits, and whether the emphasis on geographic mobility takes all of these into consideration?

Do all of these practicalities weigh more heavily on certain groups of people – i.e. are some groups marginalized for being immobile? Men and women with families where dual jobs and incomes are necessary, researchers with physical disabilities or those reliant on social welfare for other reasons, researchers with responsibilities for caring for elderly family members, may all have commitments they are unable or choose not to disengage from. Does the stringent need for geographic mobility marginalise what are a significant group of researchers that may be forced into choosing alternative careers?

Another question that arose in discussion was whether it was necessary for a researcher to move if the best place to do research in a certain topic was in the very research centre they were currently based in? Did the current over-emphasis of the value of geographic mobility sometimes mean that researchers and funding bodies do not value their current situations, roles and research centres sufficiently, and so they do not capitalize on current opportunities as much as possible?

We also questioned the concept of ‘over-mobility’ – of moving too much and creating a network of international contacts and support, moving from one post-doc position to another in various international universities, but failing to have ‘put down research roots’ and created a track record in one university long enough to progress up the career ladder. While some agreed that geographic mobility often results in a drop in salary and grade, others felt that this was not always the case and moving to another university/country could be a promotion, thereby increasing the chances of moving up the career ladder.

We debated this and other issues in relation to Horizon 2020 – which means that shorter-term grants are likely to be available under the new funding framework, encouraging those previously discouraged from committing to long-term mobility to apply for shorter spaces of time in other locations. There is also likely to be greater emphasis on the other types of mobility. The effective use of technology may make it less necessary for people to physically move to achieve successful collaboration.

We finished hopeful that this may be the way forward to achieving the right kind of mobility for the right reasons.

Dr Kritika Samsi is Research Fellow at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London. She is also active in the Voice of the Researchers (VoR) network, which aims to act as a bridge between researchers and policy-makers, bringing together researchers and enabling them to take an active role in shaping the European Research Area.

Is the care worker perspective still overlooked in disability research?

Professor Karen Christensen

Professor Karen Christensen

A long time ago – at least as it is defined in the academic world – in the 1990s, the British professor of social policy Clare Ungerson published an article: “Give them the money: Is cash a route to empowerment?” In this article she forecast many of the challenges arising from welfare policies intended to empower disabled people in their everyday lives by means of cash payments. The idea was that instead of letting disabled people receive traditional services such as home help they should receive money to employ their own care workers and this should be “a route to empowerment”. The important contribution that Ungerson made with this early article about these cash payments was to point to the care worker’s perspective within a welfare scheme that aimed at providing services on the user’s terms. If she was critical of disability writers in this and later articles, and she was, so she was subject to criticism herself by disability writers such as Jenny Morris and others.

Since the late 1990s cash-for-care schemes have developed in different ways in many European countries and there is a growing literature investigating this form of welfare. However, this basic tension underpinning the field remains and also, reflecting this tension, the care worker perspective remains the perspective that is under-researched within the disability research field. Although currently ‘multidimensional aspects’ and ‘inter-disciplinary studies’ are keywords for new research projects, many networks and associated research areas are specialized or restricted within limits and this may take some of the research on ‘care’ – actually an unpopular concept within the independent living ideology, which has pushed forward welfare schemes that could empower disabled people – out of disability research. Interestingly, this does not seem to be the case with research on long-term care for older people, where studies about the care of older people are a central part of the research area.

I am currently working on a study about welfare, migration and care work, which is empirically based on life histories of migrant care workers in Norway and the UK, and these questions around disability research arise in the project for two reasons. One is empirical and concerns the life stories: in all of them care work, and particularly personal assistance work for disabled people, plays a role, though the role varies in relation to the different life projects of the migrants. The second reason is that migration is no longer an issue only for countries like the UK with its colonial past and long traditions of bringing migrant workers into the workforce; it has also become an issue in Nordic countries. So here, for example, the health and care sector is one of the main employment areas attracting migrants, in particular women. In the UK, migrants have played a role in the cash-for-care scheme since its start, while this is a more recent phenomenon in Norway. The difference is due to the different timing of the migration waves in the two countries; in the UK starting after the Second World War, while in Norway significant numbers of migrants first started coming after the EU extension in 2004, opening the borders to citizens from several East European countries. In other words: migration is now an issue for the cash-for-care system and for the discussion of disabled people’s empowerment in both countries.

Due to the ageing population in both countries there is a growing need for workers in the health and care sector. However, in the UK, and Norway (as well as the other Nordic countries), this sector is experiencing a recruitment problem, in particular regarding direct care jobs. This type of work is stigmatized as female low status work and, particularly in the UK, is associated with very low wages. Therefore the work is often seen as unattractive to indigenous workers and the shortages caused by this contribute to the explanation as to why the work appeals to migrant workers. Among the multiple motivations for migrants taking up this work are, for example, the lack of recognition of their qualifications and the necessity therefore to take the kind of jobs that are available and the flexibility of these kinds of jobs (part time, no fixed hours, live-in options etc.) which may appeal to their specific life situation. Overall, the structural point of departure, however, is of a reserve workforce situation which raises issues regarding, for example, the risks of developing working conditions which are below the general standards in these countries. Another risk, particularly in the UK, concerns the widespread use of private agencies supporting disabled people in their employer role, but often for a price that reduces the care workers’ wages significantly. Both disabled people and care workers are vulnerable groups under such circumstances.

What I am trying to say is that empowerment for disabled people is not only a disability project, but also still – and maybe even more so now, due to the new groups of workers entering the labour market – a care work issue. Care work is increasingly globalized: labour markets are no longer restricted to localities or countries. New worldwide job seeker web sites have been established and the rapid development of technology makes it possible to keep in contact with families in the home country. Including these changes in the discussion requires paying attention to the ways migrant care workers themselves handle their work situation as part of their lives. The life history perspective affords us a way of understanding this as an ongoing process of balancing individual preferences with the structural conditions set by immigration policies and the way in which the welfare scheme is implemented, as well as enabling us to examine concrete interactions with disabled people about the assistance they need and want to control in their everyday lives. Without knowledge of the care worker side, future discussions on how to empower disabled people will lack insight. These future discussions will benefit from opening the borders between disability and care work.

A version of this piece, together with the photograph of Prof Christensen, was originally posted on the blog of Nordic Network on Disability Research, 12 December 2012.

Karen Christensen, Professor of Sociology at the University of Bergen, is Visiting Research Fellow at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit at King’s College London. Her co-authored report on the marketization of older people’s services in Scandinavia is forthcoming. She took part in the Invisible Communities conference here at King’s. For more of Professor Christensen’s work on the Norwegian context see the Research On Workforce Mobility network, of which she is a member.

Invisible communities: Working with older people from Europe and beyond

Joan Rapaport

by Joan Rapaport

Our fifth annual older people conference hosted jointly with Making Research Count and Age UK London was held on 30 January at the Guy’s campus of King’s College London.
Joan Rapaport, one of over a hundred attendees and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit, reflects on the findings reported during the day.
Presentations from the day are on our website.


Professor Jill Manthorpe: Addressing ‘invisible’ inequalities in social careWhy now?

In her opening comments, Professor Manthorpe described an ‘elastic’ Eurovision definition of ‘White Other’ which included non-EU and EU nationals who were also often defined as White Other as well as the more frequently cited migrants from Canada, USA and Australia. As usual, she noted, London is a hotbed of change. The backgrounds of ‘White Other’ people are extremely diverse, with huge implications for appropriate social care provision. However, although the Equality Act 2010 is now in force, the needs of this population group as they age have not been explored.  Professor Manthorpe acknowledged the challenges faced by busy social workers and the constraints of assessment forms but asked:

  • How can appropriate services be provided if vital biographies and life stories have not been recorded?
  • What happens to people with memory problems or whose speech is impaired after a stroke – who provides the life experience to inform the care plan?
  • How can we help people to recall their memories and help care staff to see the person behind the care plan, so that social care truly reflects their needs?

Professor Karen Christensen: Older Scandinavians in London – how do they fare?

Professor Christensen identified the longstanding historical connections between Norway and Britain. Norway’s population is small (5 million) and scattered amongst 429 municipalities. It is difficult to find out the exact numbers of Norwegians living in the UK today, as the government figures are workforce related.

Her recent and unique life course interviews of seven Norwegians living in London, ages ranging from 59 – 75, revealed that these women came to London for love and marriage, au pair work, freedom from close knit communities and disappointment about Norwegian welfare services. Their passage was made easier because their fathers had encouraged them to learn English, as a ‘useful’ language. Those who had trodden the au pair and marriage route had stayed for family reasons and had chosen part-time work to suit. Others, who had come for career reasons and later married here, had made their decision to stay right from the start. These women juggled their careers with family responsibilities and worked until retirement. None had come ‘to get a better life’ in the traditional migrant sense.

Only one, married to a black man, had faced discrimination. Although settled in Britain, none wanted to become British citizens. They had all their rights, bar the right to vote. Professor Christensen considered that if there had been the option of dual nationality, their decisions might have been different. However, they could keep in touch with their Norwegian culture through their community networks and work and telling their grandchildren about Norway. There was also the Norwegian ‘injection’ of the holiday cottage – but then straight back to Britain! These women had no fear of getting old in Britain, as long as they could avoid residential care. They hoped for help from their families in return for caring for grandchildren. Those who had worked for Norwegian agencies received higher pensions than their British counterparts. They could thus afford private care.

Dr Shereen Hussein: Older Turkish migrants’ care needs in the UK: cultural encounters and unmet needshow do these compare?

Dr Hussein identified three distinct Turkish population groups: Turks, Alevi/Kurds and Turkish Cypriots living in the UK, sometimes referred to as ‘invisible minorities’. Although separate in their homeland, ethnic divisions are less apparent over here. However, each group has different ethnic histories. Old age is taking some by surprise.

With a Turkish colleague, Dr Hussein has been interviewing older Turkish men and women (ages ranging from 55 – 102) as well as Turkish care and community care workers. These interviews were conducted in Turkish (crucial to the study). Typically, and in stark contrast to the Norwegian experience, people came to London for a ‘better life’, to find work and possibly to flee persecution. The jobs they found, often through friends, were low-skilled, with poor working conditions and without ‘formalities’ (regulated). They did not have to speak English because the whole workforce spoke Turkish. Many had been over here for 50 years and never learnt English. Once they left the labour market, they found a ‘sudden’ need to speak English and know the system. Language posed a huge barrier, although those with adult offspring who had grown up in the UK were more aware of services and activities. However, for others retirement has meant ‘when I became old’, nostalgia for their homeland, loss of identity and feelings of disempowerment. Whilst inter-changeable care responsibilities from and for older people were assumed within the culture and elsewhere, these expectations could not always be met and older people were sometimes obliged to use social care services with trepidation. The gap between actual and perceived social care needs was large and culturally sensitive services were viewed by the research participants to be limited. Overall, the Norwegian participants painted a far rosier picture of growing old in London than their Turkish counterparts.

What needs to change?

  • Awareness that family is an important care provider but is not always available;
  • A focus on working with younger and older Turkish communities to bridge language and care barriers;
  • Assessment of the cost implications of not providing culturally sensitive early intervention and preventative measures, on crisis and intensive care services.

Jo Moriarty: The Equality Act 2010: Protected or ignored characteristics?

Jo Moriarty explained that most of the provisions of the Equality Act had come into force in October 2010, and those relating to Age Discrimination later in October 2012. Direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation are now outlawed. There are nine protected ‘characteristics’ of which seven apply in her review on the needs of older people: age – disability – gender reassignment – race – religion or belief – sex and sexual orientation. The study considered the impact of the Equality Act for Age UK across five different services. However, the task was very difficult because of the invisibility of the population in question and the dearth of research focusing specifically on equality and diversity. Routine monitoring for different protected characteristics is uneven, there are differing reporting standards and detail relating to the characteristics is not picked out. For example, in respect of Falls Prevention and the known benefits of exercise classes, areas such as accessible publicity, opportunities to socialise, religious preferences and single sex facilities have not been researched and the impact of discrimination on take-up is unknown. Day service provision is similarly neglected. Faith-based services may provide communal social activities, but these too are very under-researched. Furthermore, as more older lesbian, gay and bisexual people live alone than other groups – does this mean they have an increased need for home and hospital services?

Jo Moriarty warned of the risks of making assumptions and cited the example of the famous film star, Merle Oberon who was elusive about her Anglo-Indian background, to the extent she hid the fact that her Indian mother was actually her dresser. Jo highlighted the similar trap of erroneous assumptions of heterosexual relationships and the impact on people’s feelings.

What are the key messages?

  • Carry out more research on the needs of people with protected characteristics;
  • Provide inclusive publicity to reassure people;
  • Show staff have been trained in equality and diversity issues;
  • Avoid stereotyping;
  • Seek service users’ views even on sensitive matters; people like to be asked, especially if they are consulted on how to ask the question.

Dr Nan Greenwood: Does ethnicity matter? Working with older people from minority ethnic groups

Dr Greenwood said that her literature review had confirmed that health and social care issues for older people from minority ethnic groups were truly invisible. There was some information, but no one collates it. Statistics are unreliable and research is limited. Older refugees in particular may be isolated because of health and social problems and cultural differences and face multiple layers of disadvantage. If they have no permanent address they may have difficulties registering with a GP and thus accessing health services. Cultural perceptions about illness and the process of ageing may also act as barriers to accessing services more generally. The experiences of carers from minority ethnic groups are additionally compounded by disadvantage and marginalisation and culturally insensitive services. The effort to obtain help (phone calls and forms) is a major barrier to seeking help. Carers value information, accessible, culturally sensitive services and, most importantly, face-to-face contact and first language support.

People from lower socio-economic status groups from all minority ethnic groups describe their health as poorer. This information is complex as ethnicity is multi-faceted and changing and given the opportunity people may define themselves as belonging to more than one race. Homogeneity within groups may be overemphasised and mask heterogeneity. Ethnicity needs to be considered against other aspects of identity such as gender, age, religion, disability and health. Dr Greenwood stressed that the general principles of good care need to be embedded throughout and cited recent research that showed people from minority ethnic groups also wanted to be treated with dignity and respect.

Dr Greenwood acknowledged pros and cons in respect of separate or mainstream services. Separate services may be more culturally sensitive and innovative and mediate with general services. However, they may also bleach culture and set people apart. Evidence is as yet lacking to help tease out these and other issues.

What are the key messages?

  • Be aware that the concept of ethnicity may sometimes obscure other facets of identity and difference;
  • Health and social care evidence about the needs of people from ethnic minorities exist despite the limitations of the research;
  • Stop problematising ethnicity and blaming the characteristics of ethnic minorities e.g. for low take-up of services;
  • Keep abreast of changing patterns of health and disease to improve take up of screening and early intervention;
  • Keep the common factors of care in sight.

Jean Lambert MEP: Does London work for older Europeans?

Jean Lambert explained that it is assumed there about 100,000 EU nationals living in London who are over 60 years of age. They have come at different times and for different purposes, some as a result of WWII, refugees fleeing persecution, Jews from various parts of Europe, to join families, for work and so on. Under EU directives, discrimination is forbidden. Information is available in twenty-three languages on the EU website to help people attain their rights. Whilst discrepancies exist between different health and welfare systems across all member states, problems for non-EU nationals living within the EU are even greater.

In respect of workforce mobility issues and the UK, Jean Lambert expressed concern about attitudes in the UK in respect of transitional arrangements relating to people coming into the country from Bulgaria and other parts of Eastern Europe. Previously, even when apparently welcoming people from Poland, a whole host of problems had arisen: lack of support, language problems and people not understanding their rights and entitlements and often those on the administering side likewise. People when they arrive know they have rights but not what these are. Nothing has since changed.

This is the Year of European Citizenship and to mark the occasion one million Euro has been set aside to put on a number of events. As part of the Year, the European Parliament has commissioned and will report on discrepancies between the different systems, including those between Europe and the UK. In addition, funding from the Citizen Rights to Equality Programme (under the former European Year of Active Ageing) is expected to report on the needs of people needing dementia care.

What are the key lessons?

  • More research on the needs of older people from these minority groups could be helpful;
  • People need to be able to access information about their rights in their own language;
  • People need a single point of expert help and someone to assist them through the process.

Conclusions and closing comments

Professor Manthorpe highlighted the importance of ensuring that the histories of people from ‘White Other’ population groups were not forgotten, given their relevance to appropriate health and social care provision. The day had demonstrated that people have very different trajectories and these need to be acknowledged. In particular, the question remains how can social workers respond under their current work pressures at a time of dwindling resources? Attention to a person’s story may help at least to get things right first time by making sure that services are both accessible and acceptable.

Joan Rapaport is Visiting Research Fellow at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London. The Invisible Communities conference was organised by Jess Harris. Twitter hashtag for the conference is #olderpeople5

Research on older Turkish migrants in the UK – emerging findings from ROWM

Dr Shereen Hussein

by Shereen Hussein

With our conference on Invisible Communities: Working with older people from Europe and beyond coming up at the end of the month, Shereen Hussein, Senior Research Fellow at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit and co-founder of the Research On Workforce Mobility (ROWM) network, discusses her work on the Turkish community in the UK. 

There is increasing interest in the experiences of people who migrated in their youth during the mid-20th century and are now growing older in the UK and other European countries. While Turkish migrants are not as large a proportion of the UK migrant population as they are in other European countries such as Germany, they are a sizeable part of some migrant communities, especially in London.

We have recently been working on collaborative research focusing on the experiences of older Turkish migrants living in London. This has explored their perceptions of ageing, of possible long-term care needs and their access to services. Sixty-six interviews with older Turkish migrants (aged 55 years or more; 34 women and 32 men) revealed two major themes, 1) ageing and belonging, and 2) identity in old age.

Turkish migrants’ stories were full of accounts and examples of adjustments, compromises and nostalgia that surfaced in old age when labour participation and feelings of ‘importance’ started to fade. These feelings seem to be exacerbated by limited English language skills, resulting from living in relatively closed communities within the UK, working in ethnic economies and providing services for the Turkish community. Many older Turkish migrants interviewed showed signs of an ‘elective belonging’, referring to the way in which ‘place biographies’ have become less important when compared with personal biographies and identities. However, while the majority of older people interviewed appreciated being in the UK, they felt they had little choice over where they lived in retirement.

Early findings also show that older Turkish migrants who have educated offspring are more likely to be aware of their needs and how to access services. However, there were high expectations of family members, with family and kinship being centre-stage in later life. For some the strength of these ties could be tested in challenging situations. Moreover, older women felt strongly that their duty to care for their husbands, their children and their grandchildren was paramount. Despite or perhaps because of this, some older women did not feel that they were important or well supported.

The findings have wide implications for services and resonate with the experience of other older Black and Minority Ethnic communities in the UK. They highlight the need for more culturally appropriate services. It is also important to raise awareness of existing support to avoid social exclusion and facilitate access and participation, including volunteering, among older Turkish communities. The findings will be discussed in more detail at the upcoming event, Invisible communities: Working with older people from Europe and beyond (30 January 2013), taking place in London.

The experiences of older Turkish migrants living in Denmark is also a research interest of ROWM network member Dr Anika Liversage and her colleagues at the University of Copenhagen. In a recent visit to the Unit, Anika and I discussed potential similarities between Turkish migrants in the UK and Denmark. We observed the importance of migration history, changes over time or trajectories, and how the ways older Turkish people lived their lives shapes their ageing experiences.

I am conducting this research with Dr Sema Öglak (Dokuz Eylül University, Turkey). We are both members of the Research On Workforce Mobility (ROWM) network. The ROWM network is flourishing (new members are always welcome), with members from around the world intent on improving our understanding of the intertwined relationships between migration and long-term care, both for those receiving and providing such care.

Dr Hussein is Senior Research Fellow at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London. She tweets as @DrShereeHussein.