Matheri J.1,2, Anthea R.3, Frantz J.3, Karanja S.4
1Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture & Technology, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Nairobi, Kenya, 2University of the Western Cape, Department of Physiotherapy, Cape Town, South Africa, 3University of the Western Cape, Faculty of Community and Health Sciences, Cape Town, South Africa, 4Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture & Technology, School of Public Health, Nairobi, Kenya

Background: The interaction between impairment and environmental factors impose a certain degree of incapacity on individuals often, undermining their freedom to function. Despite the fact that this disablement may require support services to forestall loss of function, little research has been done to explore the needs of persons with disabilities and impairments concerning support services and whether they utilize such services.

Purpose: To explore the needs of persons with disabilities regarding support services and their utilization thereof.

Methods: The study, which used a sequential exploratory design, was conducted in 2015. It consisted of focus group discussions with 52 purposively selected individuals with disabilities and interviews with 6 key informants. The 52 individuals formed 6 focus groups of between 8 to 10 individuals. Pre-piloted focus group and individual interview guides including a short questionnaire designed to collect demographic data only were applied. ATLAS.ti version 6.0 software was used to analyze data into themes and subthemes consisting of factors affecting utilization of support services and needed services, help needed and whether they were utilized or not.

Results: Findings confirm the need for support services including assistive devices and technology, support - from family and friends and personal assistance as well as sign language interpretation. They also confirm gaps in access to healthcare, rehabilitation, education and special education, vocational training, employment, information and transport services. The survey was not designed to assess the mechanisms that impoverish persons with disability, which is a limitation; however, findings suggest the presence of systemic negative attitudes, discrimination and isolation, abuse, denial, cost, long distance and height of delivery (childbirth) couches made services somewhat inaccessible.

Conclusion(s): Considering the implications of the lack of support services, which include lack of choices, illiteracy and unemployment, further research is necessary to identify appropriate means to address the widening gap in access to support and mainstream services.

Implications: These findings have implications for physiotherapy research to increase our knowledge on the relationship amongst individual persons with disabilities, support services and mainstream services.

Funding acknowledgements: Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology research fund for staff development received and used in data collection.

Topic: Disability & rehabilitation

Ethics approval: The Kenyatta National Hospital-University of Nairobi and the University of the Western Cape Ethical Review Committees approved this study.

All authors, affiliations and abstracts have been published as submitted.

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