Parental compliance with therapy home programmes within a school for learners with special educational needs : an exploratory study

Melling-Williams, Natalie (2005-03)

Thesis (MSc (Rehabilitation))--University of Stellenbosch, 2005.


The school that was studied caters for learners with special educational needs in the Western Cape Province, South Africa. The learners at the school have a variety of physical, intellectual and learning disabilities. They receive rehabilitation inputs aimed at optimising their potential as school learners and as adults. These include occupational and speech therapy, physiotherapy, learning support and educational psychology. The therapists who work with them often utilise home programmes to involve the parents in their child’s therapy and to achieve carry-over from the therapy sessions. Among the professionals at the school there is currently a perception that therapy home programmes are poorly complied with and that the rehabilitation outcomes of the learners are being disadvantaged as a result. A need therefore arose to explore this issue. This study aims to determine the extent of compliance with therapy home programmes by parents and learners of this school. The study also attempted to elicit factors identified by parents and therapists as inhibitors to and/or facilitators for compliance with the home programmes. A descriptive, analytical study design was used. All therapists working at the school, as well as the parents of learners who were expected to comply with a home programme, were invited to participate. Data was collected using two self-compiled, self-administered questionnaires. A parent focus group was added later in an attempt to elicit more depth with regard to some of the issues explored. The data was analysed using quantitative and qualitative methods. Seventy-one percent of parents reported complying at levels adequate for therapeutic benefit to be achieved. However, 25% of the parents reported complying by less than 24% of the time prescribed. The barriers to compliance identified in this study include the quality of teamwork between the parents and the professionals, attitudinal barriers from both the parents and the therapists, the quality of training for the parents and practical difficulties. The family-centred, collaborative model of teamwork was recommended to both the therapists and the parents to facilitate parental input at all levels of the planning and design of the rehabilitation programme.

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