Practitioner self-reflection to improve support to older people with HIV

In Module 1 (Self Work) we looked at self-reflection in our practice as Peer Navigators.

We noted that self-reflection is an important practice for ensuring self-care, the quality of our practice, and the support we offer to others.

In Topic 2.2 of this module we explored how different beliefs, attitudes and practices can positively or negatively impact the experience of older people living with HIV, and their overall experience of ageing.

As Peer Navigators, it may be useful to consider our own beliefs, attitudes and practices related to older people and ageing. We should consider the way our beliefs and any blind spots might influence our work with older people living with HIV.

We might refer to these blind spots as unconscious bias. Unconscious bias is the ways we might unconsciously make assumptions or judgements about an older person living with HIV based on our values, beliefs, knowledge and understanding.

As useful model for structuring our approach to self-reflection is the Rolfe model of reflection – what / so what / now what[1]:

What?So what?Now what?
What values do I bring to my work as a Peer Navigator and how do these align with the trauma-informed practice principles?What beliefs and attitudes do I have about ageing and older people?What has shaped these values, beliefs and attitudes?What assumptions do I have about communities / groups / individuals because of my values, beliefs and attitudes?What biases do I have because of my values, beliefs, attitudes and assumptions about ageing and older people?So what impact do these values and biases have on my behaviour and communication?So what impact do these values and biases have on older people living with HIV?So what can I do to challenge my biases?So what can I do to reduce the impacts of my biases?Now what will I say differently when working older people living with HIV?Now what will I do differently when working with older people living with HIV?Now what will happen when I say or do things differently? Now what can I do to monitor the impact of what I say and do? Now what can I do to continually improve on my actions to address the impact of values and bias?

These are reflections you can ask yourself in preparation for an interaction with an older person living with HIV, during an interaction or after an interaction.

You could reflect privately, journal your reflections, discuss them in debriefing or supervision with a colleague or friend, or explore them in a group reflection setting.

Bringing our unconscious biases about ageing and older people into our awareness helps us to challenge and address them, minimise their impact, and strengthen our practice as Peer Navigators into the future.


Watch this short video explaining Rolfe model of reflection: What is critical reflection (2:44)

Reflection Question

(a) two (2) values, beliefs or attitudes you hold about older people and / or ageing (WHAT)
(b) one possible impact on the client for each example (SO WHAT)
(c) one possible strategy for reducing (or strengthening) the impact of each example (NOW WHAT)

[1] Rolfe., G et al. (2001) Critical reflection in nursing and the helping professions: a user’s guide. Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan

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