n Southern African Journal of HIV Medicine - Caring for home-based care workers : home-based care




Home-based care has emerged as a service delivery model to cope with the devastation caused by the HIV / AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa, where medical and traditional care infrastructures have been overwhelmed. In these communities homebased care workers provide critical services, which include physical, psychosocial, and palliative care activities. A quantitative and qualitative study of home-based care workers in South Africa was conducted in 2005 to better understand the needs, fears and motivations of front-line care workers at Thembalethu Home Based Care (THBC), located within the Nkomazi region of South Africa's Mpumalanga province. The objectives of this study were to:<ul> <li>Describe the socio-demographic background of home-based care workers to better understand worker demographics, workers' finances and job characteristics</li> <li>Assess THBC care workers' willingness to undergo voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) to determine their HIV status</LI> <li>Explore the emotional impacts of care work for THBC frontline care workers to determine what mechanisms could be put in place in order to support and expand the current care work infrastructure.</li></ul> Findings suggest that THBC care workers value the emotional support from weekly group meetings and use this time to process the emotional impacts of their care work. Although rates of testing are low, 83% of participants would consider undergoing VCT to learn their HIV status. Specific strategies to ensure that care workers receive appropriate medical care and supportive services are discussed.


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