A group of adolescents' experiences of care in relationships with older people in a resource-constrained environment
De Jager, Hester Antoinette
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A broader research project was conducted about intergenerational relationships. The focus of this study was about adolescents’ experiences of care in relationships with people older than 60 years, who live in an environment where resources are constrained. Care usually occurs in relationships and can take either the form of practical care or emotional care, or both which can occur simultaneously. Practical care involves behaviours, while emotional care involves feelings. Both are aimed at attending to other people’s needs. Previous studies on intergenerational relationships and care largely focused on either informal and practical care-giving, which are mainly provided by adult children to older people; or on the informal and practical care-giving provided by grandparents to grandchildren. Research on relational experiences between Setswana-speaking older people and young adults in South Africa has indicated ambivalence in their relationships. While another South African study on the relational experiences between Setswana-speaking older people and their grandchildren, who are in their middle childhood, reported supportive and caring relationships. Limited research exists about care in the relationships between adolescents and older people. Care as a relational phenomenon in intergenerational relationships is explained by the Self-Interactional Group Theory (SIGT), and is used in this study as the theoretical framework. SIGT explains the interactional manifestation of intergenerational relations, and conceptualises that intergenerational relationships are continuously created and co-created, which influences the meaning that is attached to care. This theory further explains the intra-individual, inter-individual and group level interactions that take place between the adolescents and older people. According to SIGT, intergenerational interactions are embedded in the socio-cultural, socio-economical, socio-political and the physical environments in which they take place. This study was conducted in Vaalharts, situated in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa. This community is economically vulnerable and resources are constrained. A qualitative research method was used to describe adolescents’ experiences of care. Fourteen adolescents between the ages of 12 and 16 years participated in the research. Non-probability, purposive sampling was used to select the participants. The participants took part in the Mmogo-method ®, which is a visual participatory data gathering method, to elicit the experiences of care. Eight of the participants were part of the care-group, while the other six were part of the respect-group. All 14 participants received a journal with questions about care and respect to enlighten the data further. For this study, only the data about care was used. The Mmogo-method ® required the participants to build a visual presentation using clay, beads and sticks, about their experiences of care in relation to people older than 60 years. On completion, the rest of the participants were then asked to augment the individual’s explanation with their own views. The explanations were recorded and transcribed verbatim, while the visual representations were photographed and served as visual data. The data were analysed by the use of thematic and visual analysis. Trustworthiness was ensured by the use of credibility, dependability, transferability and conformability strategies. Additionally, the ethical guidelines provided by the Health Professions Council of South Africa for Psychologists were followed (Health Professions Act 56 of 1974). It was found that the adolescents were able to identify older people’s practical care and emotional care needs, and take action to provide them with appropriate care. The adolescents showed care in the form of practical activities, emotional support, showing respect, and obtaining an education. Findings further indicated that adolescents received care only in the form of practical care. These findings may be an indication that, from the adolescents’ perspective, there is an imbalance between the giving and receiving of practical and emotional care. Intervention programs can then focus on ways to help ensure that both practical and emotional care occurs in a more balanced manner.
- Humanities