The context of working and living in a care institution is accepted as challenging for all concerned, yet there is a dearth of studies into the stress experiences of caregivers. This study investigated caregivers’ stress and coping in an institution where care was provided to children affected by HIV and AIDS. The study was informed by a qualitative and case study design within an interpretivist paradigm. In addition, it was guided by a theoretical framework derived from Folkman and Lazarus’ (1984) transactional model of stress and coping. A focus group discussion and individual interviews were utilised to gather data, and to clarify and probe responses on caregivers’ experiences of stress.
Thematic analysis of the data yielded the most significant themes and subthemes from caregivers’ subjective experiences and perceptions of the stress that they experienced in their daily work situation. The results of the study indicate that caregivers’ stress experiences need to be addressed if caregiving is to be provided effectively. This will require not only training and management support for caregivers in institutional context (e.g., to deal with challenges such as appropriate discipline for the children under care), but also personal support and counselling for caregivers in order to enable them to assess the signs of burnout and cope with stress effectively.