The impact of a community-based pilot health education intervention for older people as caregivers of orphaned and sick children as a result of HIV and AIDS in South Africa

Document Type

Article (peer-reviewed)

Publication Date



The increasing HIV and AIDS epidemic in South Africa poses a substantial burden to older people, in particular older women who mainly provide care for sick adult children and their grandchildren who have become orphaned and rendered vulnerable by the death or illness of their parents. In this study, 202 isiXhosa speaking older caregivers from Motherwell in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa were trained to provide care for grandchildren and adult children living with HIV or AIDS. Based on a community needs assessment, a health education intervention comprising four modules was designed to improve skills and knowledge which would be used to assist older people in their care-giving tasks. Some topics were HIV and AIDS knowledge, effective intergenerational communication, providing home-based basic nursing care, accessing social services and grants, and relaxation techniques. Structured one-on-one interviews measured differences between pre-intervention and post-intervention scores among those who attended all four modules vs. those that missed one or more of the sessions. The results demonstrated that older people who participated in all four workshops perceived themselves more able and in control to provide nursing care. The participants also showed a more positive attitude towards people living with HIV or AIDS and reported an increased level of HIV and AIDS knowledge. The results provided valuable information upon which the development of future interventions may be based and psychosocial and structural needs of the older caregivers may be addressed by relevant stakeholders.






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