The difficulties experienced by caregivers of AIDS orphans
Motaung, Elizabeth Qaliwe
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The aim of this study was to identify difficulties experienced by caregivers of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. The aim was achieved through the following objectives: investigate the family background of caregivers of AIDS orphans; investigate the general emotional impact of caring for AIDS orphans on caregivers; investigate the health impact of caring for AIDS orphans on caregivers; investigate the extent of financial impact of caring for AIDS orphans on caregivers; investigate the impact of caring for AIDS orphans on the social life of caregivers; to make recommendations so as to assist in helping caregivers. A literature review and the qualitative empirical research method were used to achieve the aim and thus, the objectives stated above. The literature review revealed the following difficulties experienced by caregivers of AIDS orphans: lack of knowledge regarding the formal adoption of orphans; lengthy process administered by an increasingly overstretched system; bad behaviour by orphans; stress resulting to poor physical and mental health, strained personal relationships and lowering of standards of care; poverty; "role strain" and "identity"; interpersonal and family conflicts; isolation and fear for the future; excessive workload of having to care for children; and stigma and discrimination relating to HIV/AIDS. However, this study highlighted the following difficulties: poverty; stress and depression; family fights; adoption; bad influence on orphans by neighbours; education; lack of training; lack of social services support; lack of community support structures; and lack of prior planning by orphans' parents. The conclusions drawn from this study are that there were similar problems revealed in this study to those identified in the literature. For example, both literature and this study revealed poverty, stress and interpersonal and family conflicts as major problems experienced by caregivers. Grandparents and other family members who were caregivers in this study did not see "role strain" and "identity" as major stumbling blocks. Stigma and isolation were also some of the problems not directly experienced by most caregivers. However, it was evident that lack of involvement of some of these caregivers with the community, has led to their not experiencing stigmatisation and isolation. The following recommendations were made: caregivers should be given adequate training on how to use the grants given to orphans; researchers should use their research findings to influence government policy regarding termination of grants for orphans, that is, as long as orphans are still attending school or university, grants should not be terminated; universities and government should set aside special bursaries or study loans for orphans at universities, and these loans must only be paid when the orphans are in the position to do so; government should make extra funds available to give to caregivers as incentives; Social Welfare Department should be strengthen so that free counselling could be given to caregivers whenever is necessary; School-Based Support Teams (SBST) committees in schools should be capacitated and empowered; capacitate and empower non -governmental organisations (NGOs); and there should be a strong interaction between schools, NGOs, social workers, nurses and police. Limitations of the current study were also identified. This study could not show with absolute certainty whether the problems identified are related to orphanhood in general, rather than orphanhood by HIV/AIDS. Thus it was deemed necessary in future to have a comparison group of caregivers of orphans due to reasons other than HIV/AIDS. Other limitations included reliance on one population race. The study cannot ascertain whether these findings can be applicable to caregivers from other race groups such as white or coloured races. South Africa is a multicultural society with different norms and values. Thus, the way we react to certain stimuli might be influenced to a large extent by our customs and values. Further limitations included reliance on one specific type of caregiving. The study did not explore other type such as orphanages, but concentrated on what is regarded as the traditional safety net.
- Education