Community-based rehabilitation programme as a model for task-shifting
This article explores some of the implications of a non-governmental organisation (NGO) initiated community-based rehabilitation (CBR) programme, for HIV-related task-shifting programmes which have been recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an important aspect of HIV prevention, treatment and care programmes. The CBR programme is run by multi-skilled community rehabilitation facilitators (CRFs) in a low income, rural context in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and explicitly recognises the multiple facets of disability. As such, the programme focuses on both the physical and social aspects of living with disabilities. A qualitative approach was used to conduct this study, and semi-structured interviews were conducted with beneficiaries of the programme (n = 35), home and community-based care givers (HCBCs) (n = 13), and managers (n = 2). A focus group discussion was conducted with CRFs (n = 5). We found that the CBR programme successfully delivered rehabilitation services at a community level and that multi-skilled CRFs are an effective means of implementing CBR programmes in low-income rural areas. The developmental focus of the programme created a range of benefits for people with disabilities, including: physical rehabilitation, emotional support and counselling, access to grants, social inclusion and accessing assistive devices. Central to the programme’s success was the maintenance of relationships and partnerships at different levels in the community, these included relationships between HCBCs and CRFs, between CRFs and therapists, and between the NGO and the various participants in the programme. However, the NGO struggled to maintain a partnership with the relevant government departments and this had important implications for the programmes sustainability. In conclusion, we argue that this programme’s use of multi-skilled mid-level workers who have undergone effective training programmes in CBR demonstrates that a wide range of rehabilitation activities can be effectively undertaken at a community level, and that this programme provides an important example of how the WHO’s task-shifting guidelines for HIV treatment, care and prevention can be implemented.