Supporting Parents in Caring for Children with Disability in Ghana

Joyce den Besten, Marije Tebogo Cornielje, Huib Cornielje, David Norden Botwey


Purpose: This study assesses the factors that influence the wellbeing of caregivers and their children with a disability, in a rural and an urban site in Ghana. The wellbeing of parents, not surprisingly, influences the wellbeing of their children. A better understanding of the role and challenges faced by parents in caring for their child with a disability will help to improve existing services and support for children with disability.

Methods: Twenty-five parents of children with different disabilities participated in a PhotoVoice study. Photographs taken by parents, to show the challenges they experienced in childcare, were explained and discussed during focus group discussions. The Cantril Ladder was used to discuss subjective wellbeing.

Results: The photographs and discussions with parents indicated that the extensive time spent on their child, the child’s poor health status, and lack of educational opportunities had a negative influence on the wellbeing of both parent and child. Parents struggle to earn an income to provide for a child with disability. This often causes them to sink into (even deeper) poverty, and further increases the challenge to provide the (specific) care that a child with disability needs.

Conclusions and Implications: If governments, non-governmental organisations and community-based organisations want to contribute to the wellbeing of children with disability, they should be aware of the immediate context of the child, namely the family, and of the specific needs of the parents. Since the wellbeing of parents can affect the wellbeing of the child, and a child with disability may often cause further poverty in the family, relieving parents from some of the demands of childcare could help them to generate income, to the ultimate benefit of the entire family. Organisations working for children with a disability should actively involve parents of these children in designing and implementing interventions.


Subjective wellbeing; photovoice; child health; childcare; upbringing; parenthood

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