RA-COVID-19 V16 - Recherche - Action Coronavirus disease 2019 - Vague 16

Action-research to provide tools to social workers: development of a practice guide for intervening with immigrant elders in a pandemic context – COVID-PAI-TS

Submission summary

This project stems from a need expressed by social workers (SW), linked to the urgency of developing intervention tools adapted to the specific realities of elderly immigrants (EI) in the context of a pandemic.

The first results of the Public Health Survey on social and individual risk factors of COVID-19 (Inserm, 2020), reveal that non-European immigrants are more likely to be contaminated with COVID-19, because they more often live in high-density municipalities and in overcrowded [or cramped] housing (Inserm, 2020). EI are directly affected by these risk factors for CoV-2-SARS infection, since most of them live in unhealthy, cramped housing, in old, run-down or politically regulated neighbourhoods, in social residences or Migrant Worker's Homes (Jaeger & Jovelin, 2016). Their situation is all the more worrying since another survey conducted by Papon and Robert-Bobée (Insee, 2020), shows a rise in deaths between March and April 2020 that is twice as high for people born abroad than for those born in France: "deaths [...] of people born abroad increased by 48% compared to the same period in 2019, compared to +22% for deaths of people born in France. The increase was highest for people born in Africa (+ 54% for deaths of people born in the Maghreb, + 114% for those born in another African country) or Asia (+ 91%). ...] For all origins, the increase in deaths was higher for the elderly" (Papon & Robert-Bobée, 2020). In addition to these serious risk factors, other factors such as isolation, fragile health status, language barriers, lack of health literacy, lack of knowledge, mistrust or fear of health authorities, lack of social rights or digital exclusion may make it difficult for EI to find support and clear information about COVID-19. As a result, they may find it difficult to understand or apply health protection measures. In addition, the socio-economic consequences of this health crisis are having a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable populations (WHO, 2020a), such as EI, particularly because the social, economic and public health safety nets on which they can usually rely are under severe strain.

In such a context, EI may receive or seek support from SW, which, given their social and psychosocial support function, are at the forefront of the social fight against COVID-19 (Jaeger, 2020). However, in the face of this crisis of unprecedented magnitude, most SW are deprived of social intervention tools specific to EI; hence the urgency of this research. This research will be deployed in five French regions, which will allow the research results to be contextualized at the local and regional level: Hauts-de-France, Grand Est, Île-de-France, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Occitanie and PACA. The general objectives are to : 1) contribute to the advancement of scientific and professional knowledge in the field of social work in the context of pandemic, and 2) equip SW by developing a practice guide aimed at intervening adequately with EI in the context of a pandemic. The framework of the guide will be inspired by the principles set out by the WHO in terms of health crisis management (2020), built around the principles of "prevention, preparedness, intervention, resilience". To maximize the production of this guide, we will work around 5 Work Packages: the experience of EI ; the practices of SW; Evidence Based ; coordination, management and monitoring of the project and communication and dissemination of results.

Project coordination


The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


LISE Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire pour la Sociologie Economique
ESEIS-AFRIS École Supérieure Européenne de l'Intervention Sociale
IMFRTS Institut Mediterranéen de Formation et Recherche en Travail Social
CORHIS Communication, Ressources Humaines et Intervention Sociale

Help of the ANR 154,617 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: February 2021 - 12 Months

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