Empowerment Concepts was founded in 1995 to provide a vehicle to combine the experience and skills of David Patient and Neil Orr, with a specific focus upon the psychosocial aspects of living with HIV, based upon research findings regarding long terms survivors and PNI (Psychoneuroimmunology).
However, it became apparent that such principles and methods were equally effective in non-HIV areas, including personal empowerment and leadership development in corporate settings.
Although Empowerment Concepts is well known for its’ Wellness programmes (Positive Living, Peer Educator Revitalisation, Primary health, nutrition, VCT, treatment advocacy), as well as Emotional and Relational Intelligence trainings (Leadership Development, Personal Empowerment, Values Counselling), its’ reputation is founded upon its’ pragmatic ability to create, adapt and customise programmes for its’ clients, which include corporate, government, and NGO’s, in diverse settings.
The approach and methods of Empowerment Concepts are influenced by Spiral Dynamics (method and design determined by prevailing group value systems), Neurolinguistic Programming (pragmatic change methodology), and Psychoneuroimmunology research (seeking physical evidence for psychosocial change processes).
Company Reg N°:
David R. Patient
Neil M. Orr
PO Box 13043, Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, 1200, South Africa
Empowerment Concepts has designed and implemented diverse programmes for clients, including:
Wellness & Primary Health
National programme implemented from 2001 to 2003, in Mozambique. Commissioned by the National AIDS Council.
Primarily based upon the book Positive Health (Orr, Patient, Jacana Media). Involved directly capacitating delegates from private sector, government, faith-based organisation, to implement interventions regarding HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention, treatment advocacy, food security, nutritional security, support groups, home-based care, and behaviour-change methodology. A wide range of materials – including audio-visual – were developed for the programme.
This programme was audited and evaluated by several independent organisations, and found to be one of the most cost-effective and rapid grass-roots capacitation programmes in SADC history.
Based upon the Positive Health book, a programme was designed for&Beyond (formerly CC Africa), a conservation/tourism company with operations in remote locations in seven countries.
The programme was initiated in 2002, and continues. This programme has received international awards for best practice in the tourism industry (top 3 finalist in the 2005 Tourism of Tomorrow & Investment in People Award, by the World Travel & Tourism Council, out of 90 international finalists), and has been featured in National Geographic Africa, as an example of corporate-community cooperation.
Tsogo Gaming (casino industry with five units) commissioned the Company in 2006 to do a Wellness needs survey and an Absenteeism Analysis. This was followed by designing an evidence-based Wellness Programme. Empowerment Concepts entrained delegates from all units in being “Wellness Champions”, networking the various services providers, and providing capacitation in areas not covered by other service providers, such as nutrition and primary health education.
This programme is ongoing, and is monitored on a regular basis. Data from 2008 indicate that the programme has reduced per head sick leave by 14%.
On behalf of a third-party service provider, the Company designed a VCT protocol for Discovery Health, the largest medical aid in Southern Africa. The protocol resulted in Discovery contracting the third-party service provider as their preferred VCT service provider, nationally.
Peer Educator Revitalisation
Based upon the book Choices (Orr, Patient, Jacana Media). Contains the most current research-based knowledge base for Peer Educators, including developments in prevention, treatment, and support.
The training also includes mainstreaming HIV/AIDs into a Primary Health context, basic immunology, methods of behaviour change, working with different groups, and assessing peer educators in terms of communication and delivery of materials.
Emotional & Relational Intelligence
The Company has designed and implemented numerous corporate and community interventions that are focused upon empowering personnel in terms of their intra- and inter-relationship skills.
There are various versions of this programme, catering to high to no literacy, rural and urban realities, and with or without translation.
The focus of this programme is to allow delegates to explore their various habitual coping skills, and also to examine their willingness to take responsibility for the quality of their relationships, health, and future.
This intervention has been presented to groups ranging in size from 12 to 500, in corporate and community settings. Since 1997, this programme has been attended by over 8,000 people.
In conjunction with the Positive Living programme, this programme has been delivered to literally hundreds of private groups, companies, and community organisations.
This programme was designed to provide a values-based development process for companies, focusing upon emotional intelligence, relational skills, communication, and synergising personal and company values and ambitions.
This programme has been implemented for several years by &Beyond.
Values: The Foundation
for Behaviour Change
Specifically designed to optimise sustained behaviour change in the context of treatment adherence, VCT, and preventive health interventions. This intervention is based upon the premise that behaviours will only change when the new behaviour supports the person’s value system.
One-on-one and group counselling methods are entrained, with the elicitation of unconscious values as the basis, leading to an evaluation of the new behaviour within this context of such core values.
This intervention has been delivered to Life Line (Rustenberg and Mafikeng), as part of their efforts to optimise the efforts of personnel engaged in behaviour change within individuals and communities.
Biography of David Patient
Full Name: David Ross Patient
Born in 1961 in Zambia
South African citizen
Raised in South Africa (Durban)
Spent 17 years in exile in the USA before returning to South Africa in 1995.
He was diagnosed with HIV in 1983 at the age of 22
Has spent 50% of his life living and working with HIV/AIDS.
In December 2004 he went on anti-retroviral therapy
Current (April 2009) CD4 is 1224, Undetectable viral load
Master Hypnotist and Hypnotherapist (Omni Institute, Fla. Atlantic University, USA, 1990).
Regression therapist (Dr Brian Weiss, U. Miami, 1990)
Death and Dying therapist (Kubler-Ross, Denver, 1990)
High Performance Coach (Performance Unlimited, UK, 2005)
During his years in the USA, he was highly active in the original activist movement to demand treatment and research for those living with HIV, and assisted in setting up numerous programs and agencies, for which he received a Presidential Acknowledgment in 1994, from President Clinton.
His longevity and health have been intensively studied by all the top AIDS research institutions in the USA, including the National Institute of Health, and the discoverers of HIV, Robert Gallo, Luc Montagnier, and Jay Levy. Participated for six months in 1986 in the original human trials for AZT. Did not require antiretrovirals until December 2004, when his CD4 count dropped to 350. Currently (April 2009) his CD4 count is 1224, and has an undetectable viral load.
David has also been part of several studies of so-called ‘long-term non-progressor’ studies that are trying to find the common factors in a group of people who have managed to maintain immune function despite 20 years or more of being infected with HIV. The findings of these studies of long-term non-progressors are the basis for the book Positive Health.
David has appeared on many television and radio shows, as an advocate for people living with HIV, specifically to encourage infected people to take control of their own health, versus assuming a victim role.
Along with Neil Orr, he has co-authored The Healer Inside You (Juta Press), which describes how PNI can be applied for self-healing. Other co-authored books include: Sex Secrets (life skills for teenagers); Choices; and Positive Health (5th Edition).
Biography of Neil Orr
Full Name: Neil Michael Orr
Tertiary education: BA (Pretoria); BSocSciHons (CT); MA (Research Psych; CT)
Completed his MA in Research Psychology in 1994, with a focus upon health psychology, and specializing in a new area (at that time), called Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI). PNI is essentially the area of research concerning how mental-emotional factors have a direct effect upon health, by means of hormone and nerve changes over time, which affect the immune system. His main area of interest was – and remains – chronic immune disorders, such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, and autoimmune diseases. His Master’s degree thesis is entitled: Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) and Coping Styles in HIV-positive People. This research thesis focused upon the psychosocial coping factors of a group of HIV-positive men, and whether these were linked to the rate at which immune function declined in HIV infection.
NLP Practitioner (ABNLP-certified, 2005)
Master NLP Practitioner (to be completed in September 2007)
High Performance Coach (Performance Unlimited, UK, 2005)
Academic and other media articles:
Nicholas, L., & Orr, N.M., 1995, AIDS Knowledge and Attitudes Towards Homosexuals and People With AIDS of Prospective Black First-Year Social Work University Students, Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk, 31(1), pp.90-96.
Daniels, P., Nicholas, L., & Orr, N.M., 1995, Prospective Human Ecology Students' AIDS Knowledge and Attitudes Towards Homosexuals and People With AIDS, Journal of Community and Health Sciences, 2(2), pp.38-43.
Louw, J., Orr, N., Horwitz, S., Vergunst, R., Tibbs, J., Roberts, K., Badroodien, G., Kaplan, S., Jeannot, C., & Nixon, M., 1995, The emergence of psychological themes in the South African Medical Journal, 1927-1975, South African Journal of Psychology, 25(2), pp.99-105.
Patient, D., & Orr, N.,2005, Stigma and Belief Systems: Journal of AIDS Legal Network / ALQ (June 2005)
Positive Health (Jacana Media, 2007); Choices (Jacana Media, 2008); Sex Secrets (Juta); The Healer Inside You (Juta).
Data analysis / Epidemiology
Analysis of sick leave and family leave for companies
Calculating cost-to-company for absenteeism
Tracking trends in absenteeism
Correlation of HIV prevalence with absenteeism
Design of mitigating interventions
Actuarial projections and risk assessment w.r.t. HIV/AIDS in the workplace
Tsogo Sun Holdings (1998-2007)
Global Forestry (2005-2007)
Conferences & Presentations
Neil Orr has presented at numerous conferences as a subject expert on Wellness, Absenteeism in a time of HIV/AIDS, PNI, and peer educator best practice. The following conference organisations have utilised his expertise in both facilitation and presentations in the last 2 years: