This study aims to explore the experiences of carers of children with cerebral palsy living in rural areas of Ghana who have received no rehabilitation services.
Cerebral palsy is the most common chronic disability from childhood, which needs lifelong rehabilitation. Most of the population living in rural communities in Ghana have virtually no form of rehabilitation services for their chronic disabling conditions. Caring for children with disability are known to be challenging especially when coupled with environmental challenges in rural communities.
Purposive and snowball techniques were used to recruit 12 carers, age 22 to 68 years, of children with cerebral palsy aged 7 to 15 years. Two main themes, developing personal beliefs to support the caregiving role and the demands that shape the experience of caring, emerged from six subthemes and 25 theme clusters of the narratives of the carers. The essential structure of the phenomenon demonstrated the complex interaction of personal and environmental factors in harmony with the actual demands to influence the experiences of participants positively or negatively. Positively, carers achieved coping, committed to caring, hoped for the future, and accepted the condition. However, negatively, carers described the triggering factors of feeling of despair and sorrow as frustration and lack of understanding of the condition, felt stigmatized, and perceived the child was going through pain and suffering.
Carers derived strength from their religious and spiritual beliefs to balance the demands of caregiving. Findings could be used as basis for developing interventions to support carers and inform new strategies for rehabilitation service and sensitization of community members about inclusion of children with disabilities.