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Family Caregiving of Older Persons in Southern Africa

Family Caregiving of Older Persons in Southern Africa

Project website
Project status
Elena Moore
PI Name
Elena Moore
Host institution
University of Cape Town
Institution web page
Team members
Dr Jesman Chintsyana Dr Janet Ananais Dr Gwen Lesetedi Prof Dolly Ntseane Dr Nonzuzo Mbokazi
Funded by
Wellcome Trust - Career Award (2023-2028)
Award Number



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Project Summary

In February 2023, the team set out to create a broad research programme to better understand family caregiving of older persons in the region. There is very little understanding of family caregiving of older persons in the region despite the growing need for care, with high levels of comorbidities, poverty, unemployment in a context of a rapidly ageing population. Our work set out to consider theoretical issues related to care regimes, care work, families and familialism in the Global South as well as thinking through innovative qualitative methodologies in longitudinal, multi-sited contexts in the Southern African region. Our aspiration is quite simple: it is to facilitate conversations about family care of older persons at family, community, provincial, national, regional and continental level. A key part of our work is to create spaces for such conversations to happen and to listen to a wide range of experiences and perspectives.

Our programme consists of three strands: 1) the research study 2) a policy programme and 3) a researcher development component. The three strands are interlinked, and all researchers and partners engage in each strand. The programme is a collaboration with four partnering universities and over 20 NPO partners operating in four countries. In 2023, we set up the teams and implemented team-based research, public engagement and researcher development activities. Our reports, seminars and activities have gained the attention of several global, continental and national research and policy stakeholders broadly located in the area of care economies, ageing and social protection.

We have managed to design and gather in-depth qualitative data with 35 researchers across sixteen research sites and four different countries in Southern Africa. Working closely with families as well as community stakeholders requires time and deeper understanding of local contexts. Our work was supported by strong collaborations with different senior non-profit organisations, community development officers, social workers and other senior gatekeepers in the different communities we were based.

The research team is comprised of 35 researchers who are working in 10 different languages and are from a range of cognate social science disciplines, including sociology, anthropology, social development and social psychology. The team are making a difference not just academically, but through policy, civil society and community engagement. The Family Caregiving programme aspires to provide a supportive environment for all researchers including young graduates and recent retirees, whereby individual researchers are supported in teams but can also engage in extra workshops, seminars, reading groups where they can gain more experience.

Outputs / expected Outputs

Journal Articles

  • Moore, E., & Price, D. (2023). Editorial. International Journal of Care and Caring, 7(2), 201-211. Retrieved from
  • Kelly, G., & Sebego, M. (2023). Production of research in Southern Africa from a political ethics of care perspective: a scoping review and reflection. International Journal of Care and Caring, 7(2), 212-230. Retrieved from
  • Moore, E. (2023). Family care for older persons in South Africa: heterogeneity of the carer’s experience. International Journal of Care and Caring7(2), 265-286. Retrieved Nov 20, 2023, from
  • Ananias, J., & Keating, N. (2023). Experiences of family carers of older people in marginalised communities in Namibia. International Journal of Care and Caring, 7(2), 307-325. Retrieved Nov 20, 2023, from
  • Kelly, G., & Black, R. (2023). The potential value of a geographic information system for public service planning for older people in the African region. International Journal of Care and Caring, 7(2), 364-372. Retrieved Nov 20, 2023, from

Book chapters

Moore, E and Hlabana, T (2023) Understanding the role of social grants in multi-generational households. In Bennet, F. Austen, S. Avram, S. In A Research Agenda for Financial Resources within the Household. Edward Elgar.

Family Caregiving Programme Policy Briefs:

  • Insecurity Amongst Female Family Caregivers of Older Persons in South Africa
  • Addressing the Gaps in Long-Term Care for Older People in Southern Africa

Family Caregiving Programme Reports:


Output 1Funding Elder Care in South Africa Report

The funding elder care report published on Older Persons Day on 01 October 2023. The report provides an overview of how elder care in South Africa is structured financially and how spending on elder care at national and provincial level has changed over time. It also provides several recommendations for improving the funding of elder care.

Output 2Older Persons and Community Care in South Africa

The Older Persons and Community Care in South Africa report is based on a series of older persons for a and engagements with our parnters in the different sites in the Western Cape and KZN. The report gives a real sense of how community care is structured and experienced on the ground by care-receivers, caregivers and careworkers involved in supporting elderly care.

Output 3