Mercedes Muriel Saiz (University Complutense of Madrid)

(Spain)

Virginia Paez Izquierdo (University Complutense of Madrid), Maribel Martin Estalayo (University Complutense of Madrid), Ana Lucía Hernández Cordero (University of Zaragoza)
Topic: Difficulties and challenges for Social Services in the care of European migrant returnees
Language: English 

Abstract

This paper focuses on the study of the impact of the retirement migration of the European elderly on Social Services. According to municipal census data, 347,519 elderly people of European origin are registered in Spain (National Institute of Statistics of Spain, 2022) who settle in our country after finishing their working life, i.e., to begin the new stage of retirement in coastal areas or very close to the coast. They are mainly concentrated in the provinces of Valencia, Alicante, Malaga and the Balearic and Canary Islands. The aim of this research funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation is to find out what the impact of this migrant population is on Social Services. Fieldwork has been carried out for months in different areas of the Spanish coast to interview social workers and European retirees themselves to find out about their experiences regarding their passage through the Social Services.

Among the main conclusions reached is that they do not go to Social Services when they are able to look after themselves, but that there is a tendency to extend this visit when situations have already become more complicated, especially in terms of physical dependence and cognitive deterioration. Furthermore, loneliness and communication difficulties (due to language) have been identified as some of the recurring variables in the discourses of the professionals interviewed, as many of the elderly Europeans live alone on the Spanish coast and do not have a social support network. In specific cases, especially in historical territories of reception of migration from retirement, such as Malaga or Alicante, there do exist support networks and associations among foreigners to support each other. Among many other situations, a difference has also been recognized between those who can afford a residential alternative with other European people (specific residences for European elderly people), and those whose low retirement pensions prevent them from paying for it and who are forced to return to their country of origin to receive specialized care.

The social services in the territories analyzed face various challenges in order to be able to offer comprehensive social care to the elderly in Europe. The project proposes different strategies for improvement that should involve the participation of local councils, public social services, the third sector, consulates, as well as associations of retired people in Europe.