The evaluation of processes of care at selected rehabilitation centres in the Western Cape
Mlenzana, Nondwe Bongokazi
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Following the introduction of the Health Act of 1995, the Primary Healthcare Package for South Africa, a set of norms and standards was developed in 2000, to ensure good quality of care and to act as a guide to provide good service at this level of care. Related to this, and bringing health services to the people, was the aspect of rehabilitation. It was highlighted that rehabilitation services should be restructured and strengthened in order to improve access to these services for those who did not have them before. This led to the development of the National Rehabilitation Policy in 2000, which focused on improving accessibility to all rehabilitation services, in order to facilitate the realisation of every citizen’s constitutional right to have access to healthcare services, but this policy was not implemented. During 2002, the Department of Health produced a strategic plan for the reshaping of public health services in the Western Cape. This initiative, Healthcare 2010, the Future for Health in the Western Cape 2020, mapped the way forward to improve substantially the quality of care provided by the health service. This plan was based on the primary healthcare approach and aimed to shift patients to more appropriate levels of care. It became evident that in order to move forward with the 2020 vision, there needed to be a greater understanding of the current situation. This study focused primarily on the aspect of rehabilitation, with a specific focus on systematic review and three dimensions of the process of care, namely patient information; service provider information; and realised access. These dimensions assisted in evaluating the rehabilitation service in order to understand what was happening in the delivery of rehabilitation services, focusing on the experiences of patients with physical disabilities, as well as service providers and caregivers, and realised access that included satisfaction of all participants in the rehabilitation centres. Hence the aim of this study was to evaluate the process of care at three selected rehabilitation centres in the Western Cape Province within the contextual framework of the National Rehabilitation Policy (NRP) and the United Nations Convention Rehabilitation Policy for People with Disabilities (UNCRPD). To assist in achieving this aim, objectives were developed as follows: to determine the reported barriers and facilitators to rehabilitation services through a systematic review; to determine the profile of patients with disabilities accessing rehabilitation services at three rehabilitation centres in the Western Cape Province; to determine the profile of service providers providing rehabilitation service to patients with disabilities attending rehabilitation centres in the Western Cape Province; to explore clients’ perceptions of and satisfaction with the rehabilitation services; to explore caregivers’ perceptions of and satisfaction with the rehabilitation services; to explore the experiences of service providers with the rehabilitation services; and to map the links between the experiences and perceptions of the key stakeholders. This was an evaluation study, which was primarily descriptive, with the focus on process evaluation. Process evaluation provides an indication of what happened, and why. The study was conducted at three rehabilitation centres in the Western Cape Province. Voluntary participation of patients, service providers and caregivers was gained by signing a consent form. Both qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection were used in this study. Questionnaires were used for quantitative data collection and SPSS version 17 and 21 was used to analyse the data. Focus group discussions and in-depth interviews, which were based on interview guides and tape recorded, were used to gather information on experiences and perceptions of all the participants. Quantitative data capturing was checked for errors by using excel spread sheets, where data was entered twice in two different spread sheets and checked for differences, as responses were coded by using numbers. Qualitative data was checked for errors by following the trustworthiness process where data was transcribed verbatim, and where necessary translated by two different translators to ensure accuracy. The researcher consulted with the supervisors during data analysis to enhance quality in the coding process and identification of themes and relevant quotations. Results showed that barriers to rehabilitation outnumbered facilitators of the rehabilitation process. There was a gap identified in the profile of the patients with regards to their rehabilitation needs. Records of the patients had missing information posing a challenge to data collection and possible presenting a distorted picture of service provision. However, records showed that not all rehabilitation professionals were not consulted during the rehabilitation process of care. Ninety-five percent (95%) of the clients consulted with physiotherapists, whereas only 4% consulted social workers. Rehabilitation service providers did not reflect a rehabilitation team. There was a shortage of rehabilitation service providers, in that some centres had full time staff while other centres only had sessional rehabilitation professionals. Service providers were negligent with some of the processes to be followed when consulting clients, such as getting consent to treat the patient and educating patients regarding their ailments, which then affected satisfaction of the patients. However, there were also positive aspects like treating patients with respect and allowing patients to ask questions during consultation. Caregivers on the other hand were satisfied with the rehabilitation process, as they found the centre easily accessible for their family members and were involved in the rehabilitation of the patients. In conclusion, the rehabilitation process was satisfying to the participants of this study. The main challenge that patients and caregivers experienced was financial constraints. Staffing remains a problem in rehabilitation centres in the Western Cape Province, as there were not enough staff for rehabilitation service delivery at these selected rehabilitation centres. Other staff members were not utilised during the rehabilitation process. These findings raise issues for the Western Cape Department of Health to consider regarding rehabilitation, as people with disabilities are not receiving optimal care. The study makes recommendations to the Department of Health in the Western Cape Province regarding the improvement of the rehabilitation process of care.