Pakistan is home to 4.6 million children who have been orphaned. Limited data on caregiving in orphanages suggests that caregivers do not have specialised training, and experience heavy workloads and high-stress levels. Supporting these caregivers to provide responsive and consistent caregiving can improve their well-being along with the psychological and physical development of children who have been orphaned. This research explored the main caregiving related challenges faced by caregivers in orphanage settings, their professional and personal needs, and perceived emotional and behavioural problems manifesting in children under their care.
This research adopted a qualitative research design with a thematic analysis approach. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 14 caregivers who were currently caring for four to 12-year-old children in Pakistani orphanages.
Five main themes: 1) religiosity, 2) economic relief, 3) caregivers’ needs and well-being, 4) caring for children who have been orphaned, and 5) need for context specific training, emerged from the data, which included several subthemes. Findings revealed the presence of positive religious views regarding the upbringing and care of children who have been orphaned. Work provided accommodation was an important economic relief. Caregivers’ psychological, physiological and personal lives were affected by job-related stress and demands. Many helpful and unhelpful parenting practices were documented, and challenges such as children’s verbal and physical aggression, stealing, non-cooperation and poor social skills were reported. The main professional issues included low salary, high numbers of children in care, and lack of context specific professional caregiving training provided.
This study established the need for a tailored program that suits the context specific caregiving needs in Pakistani orphanages to support the training and professional growth of caregivers and promote their wellbeing along with positive developmental outcomes in the children under their care.