The Future of Long Term Care (LTC) for Vulnerable Older Adults in sub-Saharan Africa


Long-term social and health care for older persons

Project Team

Prof. E. Freeman (London School of Economics / NWU); Prof. J. Hoffman (NWU / University of Oxford); Prof. A. Baart (NWU), Ms J. van Aardt (NWU); Ms B Pakkies (Optentia PhD candidate), Ms M. Rankin (MHSc – Gerontology, NWU), Ms E. Louw (prospective MA candidate, NWU); Ms C. Louw (MHSc – Gerontology, NWU).


AXA Research Fund

Trans 50

Age in Action


This research generally aims to understand how formal provision of long term social and health care for vulnerable older adults (aged 50+) in sub-Saharan Africa can be reconciled with informal care provision in order to plan interventions that can mitigate the risk of unmet care. More specifically this study concerns the future of long term care for vulnerable older adults, focusing on experiences in South Africa.  It is foreseen that considerable demographic, social and economic change will increase demand for long-term care in older age, and at the same time weaken the ability of informal (familial) sector to provide it. This project considers the extent of the risk of unmet need for long term care, and explores whether the formal sector can or should supplement or substitute the informal sector to meet those needs.  It investigates the scale of the risk of unmet care by quantitative analysis of existing data sets, and establishes the acceptability of formal care provision by conducting both a policy analysis and primary qualitative research involving older adults and care providers.  Central to the project is the inclusion of older adults who are too frequently absent from political discourse about the (un)acceptability of formal provision for the majority of the population. 

Related Output

Hoffman, J., & Pype, K. (Eds.) (2016). Ageing in Sub-Saharan Africa: Spaces and Practices of Care. Bristol: Policy Press.

This collection of in-depth ethnographic analysis examines the impact of local and global transformations on the care, or lack of care, older people receive in Sub-Saharan Africa. This volume provides the pan-African evidence and analysis needed to move forward debates about how to address the long term care needs of this vulnerable population. Case studies from different regions of the continent (Southern, Central, East and West Africa) examine formal and informal care, including inter- and intra-generational care, retirement homes, care in the context of poverty, HIV/AIDS and migration.