Community caregivers: a thematic analysis of the perceived psychological impact that community caregiving has on the caregivers.
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This study focused on the impact of community caregiving work on caregivers. The HIV/AIDS pandemic and other health crises have led to an increased number of orphans and vulnerable children in South Africa. There is hence a growing need for community care workers to assist vulnerable families and children. While it is acknowledged that community caregivers face difficult and ambiguous situations in their work environment, there is a paucity of research on the impact of their work on CCGs. This study adopted a qualitative approach to explore the work experiences of CCGs and the impact of these experiences on their well-being. Motivational theory and the effort reward model were adopted to provide a framework to examine this question. Twenty eight community caregivers participated in focus group discussions in Pietermaritzburg, KwaMashu, and Osizweni in KwaZulu-Natal. The findings indicate that community caregivers’ psychological well-being is negatively affected by the challenges they encounter in their work. These leave them feeling exploited, undermined, and vulnerable to harm. The study concludes that poorly functioning referral systems, undermining of caregivers’ roles, a lack of adequate support to deal with work-related stress, and inadequate rewards are some of the challenges that lead to distress among community caregivers. The caregivers felt that increased recognition, adequate rewards, psychological support, and ensuring their safety would have a positive impact on their well-being. While the findings are generalizable, future studies could sample caregivers from various non-governmental organisations and across sectors to strengthen generalizability.
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