Main Article Content

Community nurses' perceptions of and exposure to children with severe disabilities and their primary caregivers

J. Bornman
E. Alant


In primary health care clinics nurses are faced with individuals of different ages with different problems, ranging from minor ailments to severe disabilities. Particularly vulnerable are those with severe disabilities, with specific reference to those with communication and intellectual impairments because of their inability to articulate their needs, feelings and rights. Community nurses are often the first contact that primary caregivers (parents) of children with severe disabilities (CSDs) have with health professionals and they often remain the only professionals who support and assist these caregivers. It is therefore clear that these nurses need to be equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to assist caregivers in dealing with their CSDs. This is a descriptive study aimed at determining community nurses' perceptions regarding disability and their exposure to CSDs. Quantitative (questionnaire) and qualitative (focus groups) methods were used to obtain data. Results indicated that nurses regarded their knowledge and skills in dealing with CSDs and their caregivers as inadequate, despite the fact that they were exposed to them and were expected to provide services to them. A need for knowledge and skill training in this regard was identified.

(Health SA Gesondheid : interdisciplinary research journal: 2002 7(3): 32-55)