Original Research

Challenges and opportunities in adolescent intellectual disability care and rehabilitation

Rakgadi G. Malapela
South African Family Practice | Vol 66, No 1 : Part 1| a5798 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v66i1.5798 | © 2024 Rakgadi G. Malapela | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 July 2023 | Published: 29 February 2024

About the author(s)

Rakgadi G. Malapela, Department of Health Studies, College of Human Sciences, School of Social Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


Background: There have been mounting concerns over the lack of proper facilities for adolescents living with intellectual disability (ALWID), and the struggles particularly of the developing world to provide care and rehabilitation services for this population. Care and rehabilitation services are needed to improve this population’s normal functioning but have been scarce or non-existent in most communities.

Objectives: This study aimed to solicit and describe nurse managers’ views of the challenges and opportunities in rendering care and rehabilitation services to ALWID. The study was based on Julian Rappaport’s empowerment theory, which provided a framework for organising essential knowledge while rendering care and rehabilitation services for ALWID.

Method: A qualitative, explorative design was used to solicit nurse managers’ views of the challenges and opportunities in rendering rehabilitation services to ALWID in Tshwane District, Gauteng province, South Africa. Thirteen participants were purposively selected from three rehabilitation centres.

Results: Data were analysed thematically using Braun and Clarke’s six-step method. Five themes emerged relating to challenges and opportunities in rendering rehabilitation services to ALWID. Two themes focussed on challenges, namely inadequate age-appropriate rehabilitation services and a lack of material and non-material resources. Strengthened support systems, partnerships with outside stakeholders, and the promotion of physical activities emerged as opportunities for rendering rehabilitation services to ALWID.

Conclusion: Nurse managers believe rehabilitation services empower ALWID towards autonomy, enhancing their societal function and quality of life with a crucial strong support system.

Contribution: Nurse managers should lead in creating collaboration platforms for ALWID care, promoting partnerships, sharing best practices, and overcoming challenges in treatment and rehabilitation.


adolescents; care; challenges; nurse managers; opportunities; rehabilitation service; views.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being


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