The experience of loneliness among live-in Filipino homecare workers in Israel: Implications for social workers

Liat Ayalon, Sharon Shiovitz-Ezra

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This paper evaluates the experience of loneliness among Filipino homecare workers in Israel. It is expected that Filipino homecare workers in Israel experience a triple jeopardy that is responsible for their social and emotional loneliness: (i) as a result of their immigration to a different country and the need to adjust to different cultural values and norms while relinquishing existing social contacts in country of origin, (ii) as a result of their status as temporary workers who are not expected to build their lives in the host county, but to serve Israelis and then leave after several years, and (iii) as caregivers of the frailest individuals in our society. We conducted semi-structured interviews with Filipino homecare workers, their care recipients, family members of care recipients and social workers in charge of this care-giving arrangement. Our analysis revealed three major themes: (i) the experience of emotional and social loneliness, (ii) its impact on workers' emotional and physical health, and (iii) common coping mechanisms workers use to address their profound loneliness. We discuss a variety of ways social workers can employ in order to alleviate such feelings of profound loneliness among Filipino homecare workers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2538-2559
Number of pages22
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Liat Ayalon is a clinical gero-psychologist and a senior lecturer at the Louis and Gabi Weisfeld School of Social Work at Bar Ilan University. Dr. Ayalon completed her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the Illinois Institute of Technology and her clinical psychology internship and postdoctoral training at the University of California, San Francisco. Her research concerns the mental health of older adults and the people who care for them. The present study was funded by a young investigator’s grant provided by the German Israeli Foundation to support her research on foreign home care workers to older adults. Sharon Shiovitz-Ezra (born in 1974) is a lecturer at the Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare at the Hebrew University, where she received her doctorate in 2005. In 2008 she served as a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Center on Demography and Economics of Aging, at the University of Chicago under the supervision of Professor Linda Waite. Her current theoretical and research agenda focuses on loneliness experienced in the second half of life. She examines predictors such as the influence of objective and subjective social interactions as well as outcomes of loneliness among older people. For example, she examined loneliness as a risk factor for morbidity and all-cause mortality in later life. Another research topic of Dr. Shiovitz-Ezra is the phenomenon of “Ageism.” Recently she explored the prevalence of the phenomenon in Israel and plans to investigate its correlates and possible outcomes.


  • Globalisation
  • Long-term care
  • Mental health
  • Professional care-giving


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