Dr Magen Mutepfa is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Botswana. Previously she was a teaching assistant in the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney (NSW), and was a recipient of Australia International Postgraduate Research Scholarship. She also worked as coordinator counsellor at the University of Zimbabwe and Education Officer in the Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture. She is a registered psychologist with more than 10 years of cross-discipline experience in psycho-therapy support services, more than 10 years of teaching experience, and worked as a research consultant for Pacific Institute of Research and Evaluation (three years). Her main research interests are on health and wellbeing, HIV and AIDS, and Ageing. She has also published on counselling, inclusive education, orphans and vulnerable children and abuse in well renowned journals. Her current research is on the Impact of health-related characteristics on Mental Health and Quality of Life (QOL) of the elderly in Botswana.
Influences of protective factors on health and well-being of grandparent carers fostering orphans in Zimbabwe
Grandparents are the primary caregivers of orphaned children due to HIV and AIDS deaths, therefore it is pertinent to establish how they are coping without provision of social security. Although researchers in Africa have studied grandparents who assume primary caregiving responsibilities, it is rare that they do so from a strength perspective, hence the need to examine the utility of personal, social, and environmental assets on caregiving. The study sought to explore the associations of protective factors with resilience, health and wellbeing of grandparent carers who often carry full custody of the children after the death of the parent carers. Participants were 327 grandparents looking after their grandchildren (mean age=62.4; s.d=11.2). Data on resilience, health and wellbeing of carers were collected from grandparents residing in rural areas, urban low, and high density suburbs of Zimbabwe using the Resilience Scale and WHOQOL-BREF measures. Hierarchical regression analysis was used to predict the strengths of the relationships between protective factors and resilience, health and well-being. Protective factors associated with resilience were personal assets (high self-esteem, problem-solving skills, and mastery) and social assets (social networks and spirituality). Personal assets (high self-esteem and competence) and social assets (access to health, social networks), and a healthy physical environment) were associated with health. Social assets (social networks and spirituality) and environmental assets were associated with wellbeing. Protective factors were found to play a vital role in resilience, health and wellbeing, hence caregiving. The low health (Mean=57) and wellbeing (Mean=48) scores highlight the need for assistance to grandparents to enable them to cope adequately with carer roles. The mean resilience score (Mean=66.5) was moderate. Positive emotions and good health experienced by resilient grandparent carers function as protective factors to reduce the magnitude of adversity to individuals and assist them to cope well with caregiving. The results of this study will be beneficial to all stakeholders interested in the welfare of elders with similar responsibilities. Knowledge about the health and wellbeing of grandparents who are caregivers will assist public service and private sectors to formulate viable policies concerning elderly carers who foster orphans, particularly in countries with high HIV prevalence