WCPT Africa Region Conference System, 9th WCPT Africa Region Congress

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Rehabilitation services of persons with disabilities: Experiences of patients and service providers in a rehabilitation centre in the Western Cape Province.
Anne Kumurenzi

Last modified: 2012-02-07


Purpose: Large numbers of people worldwide live with disabilities. This has negatively impacted on them, physically, psychologically, mentally, economically and socially (Mont, 2007; Anderson, Mhurchu, Brown & Crater, 2002). In contexts where rehabilitation services are lacking or inadequate, persons with disabilities (PWDs) life styles might be negatively affected. Considering the myriad of challenges encountered in rehabilitation services at Bishop Lavis Rehabilitation Centre (BLRC) in Cape Town, South Africa , the current study sought to know the persons with physical disabilities’ and service providers’ experiences regarding the rehabilitation services.

Methods and participants: A qualitative study design was used for data collection. Eleven participants among patients were conveniently selected for the focus group discussion and three key informants among the service providers participated in the in-depth interviews.

In both the FGD and the in-depth interviews, the researcher used an interview guide to explore the experiences of persons with physical disabilities and service providers regarding: service providers’ knowledge and skills training, interaction between patients and service providers, information obtained by patients, accessibility of rehabilitation services, patient participation and involvement in the rehabilitation and structure of rehabilitation services.

Ethical Issues: Permission to conduct the study was sought and granted from the Senate Research Grant and Study Leave Committee at the University of the Western Cape, the Western Cape department of Health as well as the facility manager of Bishop Lavis Rehabilitation Centre. Written informed consent was obtained from the participants prior to the focus group discussion and interviews.

Analysis: The interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed verbatim and the data was thematically analysed using pre-determined themes.

Results: The results indicated that patients experienced problems of accessing transport to and from the rehabilitation facility. The taxis and buses were either inaccessible or unavailable for persons with physical disabilities. Poor referral systems, shortage of staff, lack of skills training were among the main challenges that arose in the interviews with the service providers. Due to the workload that service providers encountered, they sometimes lacked time to interact and communicate with patients. Participants in both focus group discussion and in-depth interviews reported positive responses regarding patient participation and involvement in the rehabilitation sessions and interaction between patients and service providers. Though some patients expressed their views that the dissemination of information related to group sessions was inadequate, most of the participants in both groups stated that, patients were adequately informed on their conditions and treatment.

Conclusion: The study concludes by highlighting the need to improve rehabilitation services in terms of increasing the capacity of service providers, equipment, training of service providers and providing transport services for persons with disabilities. Hence, the training and equipping rehabilitation service providers will be strengthening the rehabilitation programs where combating non-communicable diseases can be facilitated.

I thank the Government of Rwanda for granting me a scholarship to further my studies.

Implications: There is a need for those planning the rehabilitation services and policy makers to recognise the challenges encountered by those receiving rehabilitation services as well as those providing these services as discussed in this study. Hence, this will help in developing appropriate, accessible and cost effective rehabilitation services that meet the needs of persons with disabilities.

Keywords: Experiences, persons with physical disabilities and services providers.


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