Original Research

The life-world of mothers who care for mentally retarded children: the Katutura township experience

A.M. Ntswane, L. van Rhyn
Curationis | Vol 30, No 1 | a1060 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/curationis.v30i1.1060 | © 2007 A.M. Ntswane, L. van Rhyn | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 September 2007 | Published: 28 September 2007

About the author(s)

A.M. Ntswane, Nursing Department, University of Pretoria, South Africa
L. van Rhyn, School of Nursing, University of Free State, South Africa

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This article reports on a research study done in Katutura Township, near Windhoek. A qualitative, exploratory, descriptive and contextual design was followed to answer the research question investigating experiences of mothers caring for mentally retarded children at home. Phenomenological interviews were conducted with a purposefully selected sample of twelve mothers. The meaning of their experiences was analysed by using Teschxs method (1990 in Creswell, 1994:155) of analysing qualitative data. The results indicated various emotions and challenges experienced by these mothers during the care of their children. Feelings of shock, despondency and sadness dominated the early stages when the retarded children were still young. During later years, as the children were growing up, the mothers felt shame, fear, frustration, anger, disappointment and worry. However, acceptance followed, as the children grew older. Stigma seemed to affect all the respondents. Support in any form or lack thereof seemed to be the decisive factor-positioning mothers along a continuum of two extremes, namely despairing isolation and integrated happiness. Recommendations were made regarding the improvement of heath care services and education of the mothers and their families.


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