Promoting health and wellbeing management

In topics 3.1 and 3.2 we outlined some of the physical health needs and conditions associated with HIV and the ageing process.

The resources below are highly recommended for Peer Navigators and the older people living with HIV they may be working with.[1]

They contain useful tips and strategies for managing many of the health and wellbeing issues we have been discussing.

More Information

Body Positive New Zealand:
Ahead of time: A practical guide to growing older with HIV

Senior Voices Project, Living Positive Victoria in partnership with the RDNS:
POSITIVE CARING A handbook for people caring for older people living with HIV, and a guide for people living with HIV

Health Equity Matters (formerly AFAO):
Your body blueprint for HIV and healthy living

Remember that as a Peer Navigator your role is to listen, support and link.

You always need to work within the scope of your role.

You should support older people living with HIV to have good relationships with their HIV specialists, GPs and other health providers.

Peer Navigators can support but not replace these relationships. These health providers are responsible for supporting the clinical management of your client’s health and wellbeing.

Many older people living with HIV will come to Peer Navigators with very well-established relationships with HIV and other health practitioners.

Older people with more recent diagnoses may need help to find and connect with various medical services and supports.

Key discussions for supporting improved physical health and wellbeing might include:

  • Working out what is important to you client in terms of their physical and psychosocial health. Helping them plan accordingly.
  • Focussing on ways to stop smoking, reduce alcohol and other drug use, improve diet, and increase physical activity. Prevention is better than cure.
  • Helping them plan, manage and maintain positive relationships with HIV specialists, GPs and other providers.
  • Knowing about HIV treatments and when to start taking them.
  • Following recommended HIV treatment plans and how to avoid treatment breaks.
  • Understanding drug interactions (as well as recreational drugs) and ensuring health practitioners are aware of all medications being taken.
  • Maintaining vaccinations on medical advice.
  • Regular check-ups and health monitoring.

The Body Positive New Zealand resource contains a Checklist for healthy ageing with HIV.

Peer Navigators may find it is a useful tool for supporting conversations about physical health and wellbeing, as well as support needs.

Each item on the checklist could be turned into open questions to support conversations about health management.

Remember from Module 2 (Client Work) that asking open questions is a good way to demonstrate active listening.

Asking open questions doesn’t limit a response to Yes/No and encourages your client to share their experience.

Figure 5: Checklist for healthy ageing with HIV, Body Positive New Zealand

Knowledge Question

Choose three (3) of the items of the Body Positive New Zealand Checklist. For each checklist item, identify one (1) open question you could ask to encourage an older person share information about:
(a)        their current management of the health issue
(b)       any improvements they can identify in the management of the health issue
(c)        any support or information the person may need in order to make the improvement

[1] Note that these resources are focused on Victoria and New Zealand and contain information that is not always directly applicable to other places. The Victorian resource is also a little bit out of date. Things change quickly!

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