In a meeting with Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in Rome, the president of the Catholic aid organization the Sant' Egidio Community called for 50,000 non-EU migrants to be granted work visas by 2019. The current quota is capped at 30,850.
Most of these work permits however are envisioned for seasonal workers in farming and hospitality. There is no quota for carers.
Many women from poorer eastern European economies are currently employed as carers in Italy, although demand outstrips supply, according to experts.
"Caregivers no longer come and this is a problem for the elderly. Without them, without home care or without the creation of alternative forms of co-housing they can no longer stay at home and there is a rising mortality rate," Marco Impagliazzo, president of the Sant'Egidio Community, said in a press conference, reports Il Sole 24 Ore.
More than 52 per cent of Italians aged over 85 live on their own – at least 250,000 alone in Rome.
Impagliazzo's plea to recruit more legal migrant workers follows a similar appeal two weeks ago by Tito Boeri, president of Italy's National Institute of Social Security (INPS).
"What we have done in recent years has been to close the door to regular immigration. This condemns us to have only irregular immigration and prevents us from receiving contributions that would be very important," said Boeri.
Italy's population has been growing steadily in recent years while the birth rate is declining. Legal migration to Italy is defined by the so-called 'decreto flussi' – the flow decree. While the law's quotas change each year, the legislation has not been updated since 2011 to reflect contemporary needs, according to Sant'Egidio's Impagliazzo.
Care for the elderly was traditionally provided by a family's younger generations but increased social mobility – and internal migration – in recent years has left a gap, which is mainly filled by foreign workers. According to figures cited by Il Sole 24 Ore, 33 per cent of the elderly in Italy need carer support.
While some of that demand is met by EU workers, INPS' president Boeri suggested many more non-EU economic migrants are needed.
La domanda di badanti delle famiglie italiane è in aumento. Ma in mancanza di decreti flussi con quote per badanti il numero di lavoratori domestici extra-comunitari iscritti alla gestione Inps tende a ridursi, non compensato da aumento dei lavoratori comunitari o italiani pic.twitter.com/C7wDMa9Q0g— Tito Boeri (@Tboeri) July 4, 2018
"The demand for carers of Italian families is increasing," tweeted Boeri on July 4th. "But in the absence of a flow decree with quotas for caregivers, the number of non-EU domestic workers enrolled in INPS' books tends to decrease, not offset by an increase in EU or Italian workers."