Social care sector is letting down older people with HIV, finds report

Terrence Higgins Trust study says social care sector is failing to meet needs of older people living with HIV

Photo: Terrence Higgins Trust

Research by the Terrence Higgins Trust into the care needs of older people with HIV has highlighted a “real need” for better training of social care staff, the chair of the National Care Association has said.

The charity’s Uncharted Territory report examined the experiences of more than 300 over 50s living with HIV and concluded that the social care sector is not currently meeting their needs.

It found that social care professionals are not routinely trained on HIV as part of basic inductions or required to remain up-to-date with HIV through their professional development.

Discrimination in homes

The report also highlighted instances of discrimination older people with HIV have experienced in care homes.

In one case a man in hospital was unable to leave after two care homes refused to take him due to his HIV status. A third care home offered to take him but only if it was paid double.

In another instance a HIV-positive woman in a London care home was encouraged to stay in her room to avoid contact with other residents and when she tried using the TV remote in the lounge it was taken from her and cleaned with antibacterial wipes.

“This is unacceptable,” said the report. “People living with HIV in care homes should not be treated any differently from their peers. Instead, these actions are fuelling myths and stigma around HIV and further isolating older residents living with HIV in residential care.”

The charity recommended that social care providers ensure continued professional development for staff on HIV.

Disturbing findings

Nadia Ahmed, chair of the National Care Association (NCA), said the findings were “stark and disturbing”.

“It’s essential that services offering social care should be able to meet people’s needs,” she said. “I can see there is a real need to provide appropriate training and support for social care staff to ensure they are clear about the condition and how we care for those who require help and support.”

Ahmed added that the NCA would “enforce” the recommendations around being more aware of HIV-related training and would work to ensure access for all providers and their workforces.

The Terrence Higgins Trust report also recommended that Skills for Care, the strategic body for adult social care workforce development in England, and its equivalents in Scotland and Wales ensure that HIV and ageing is a mandatory part of all entry-level training and induction for social care workers.

Andy Tilden, Skills for Care’s head of sector development, said that the organisation welcomed the publication of the study.

“While there’s no specific mention of HIV in the Care Certificate, Skills for Care would expect that employers ensure all their staff have the appropriate values, skills and knowledge to meet the needs of any individual accessing their care and support services – including people growing older with HIV,” Tilden said.
“We are willing to work with any organisation to make sure anyone working in the growing adult social care sector can access the most up-to-date information and learning so they can then offer care and support that always meets the needs of that individual.”

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