Caregiver experiences and the perceived role of social workers in caring for people with disabilities in South Africa
Worldwide, research into experiences of caregivers are gradually increasing and their central role in the care of people with disabilities is being acknowledged. Caregivers of persons with disabilities experience a range of problems associated with the caregiving role and requisite support is sparce. Social workers play a crucial role in assisting them navigate the tasks of caregiving. Informed by the Ubuntu lens as an indigenous social work approach, the aim of this qualitative study was to explore the caregiving experiences and the perceived role of social workers in helping them care for the disabled. Semi structured interviews with ten caregivers from a special day care centre in the Eastern Cape, South Africa were conducted. Study findings indicated that caregivers experienced the role as burdensome due to lack of some forms of support such as social, emotional, financial, communal whilst also having an array of unfulfilled training needs. Caregivers of the disabled perceived social workers as instrumental is relieving them of the burden of care and in the provision of adequate support. The implications for social work practice such as establishment and running of support groups in working with the disabled and their caregivers are also depicted as suggested by the findings.