Making the vision a reality: what needs to change

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Thursday 15th January 2015

At HIV Scotland we regularly receive anecdotes from people living with or at risk of HIV about their experiences accessing services. Many of these stories are positive - for example many people tell us about the dedication of particular staff or effectiveness of the service they received.

But, sometimes we hear of how people's experiences of a service don’t match their expectations of how it should help, or indeed the vision for how health and social care should be delivered, as set out by the Scottish Government. There are lots of vital support services which people access from agencies outside of the HIV and sexual health sector, and it’s important that organisations who plan these types of services understand the particular needs of people living with and at risk of HIV.

In 2014 HIV Scotland set out to investigate the types of services people living with and at risk of HIV were using, what their experiences of them were and whether this was in line with what the government says their experience should be. We did this by asking people to fill in surveys about the services they used and holding focus groups. Hundreds of you did and added your voice to our work.

We also approached service providers, health boards and local authorities to find out their thoughts how they organised services, what they provided and what challenges and difficulties they faced in their service provision. Together this information allowed us to write a report, ‘Making the vision the reality: services supporting people living with and at risk of HIV’ [PDF - 4MB].

The report makes a range of recommendations, including that:

  • People living with or at risk of HIV should be included as key partners within networks and bodies which have a key role in planning and delivery of services, such as community health partnerships, managed care networks, and the new integrated health and social care partnerships.
  • Service providers should work to make services more accessible and adopt a wider range of opening times and increase the number of appointments available to people.
  • Services should provide greater clarity about what the information they collect from people will be used for and in exactly which circumstances information may be shared.
  • Specialist HIV training should be available for staff and volunteers working within health and social care services. This is of particular importance in generic rather than specialist services that people living with and at risk of HIV use.
  • People living in rural areas of Scotland have access to the full range of services which are relevant to their needs, on an equal basis with people living within other parts of the country.
  • Service providers should work to create physical environments where service users feel welcome and comfortable. Privacy should be prioritised so that people feel safe and feel confident to talk openly about their health with staff.

Over the next year, we at HIV Scotland will be taking forward these recommendations and working with service providers to create services that effectively address the needs that people living with and at risk of HIV face.

If you would like to keep up to date with our work or help us in our campaigning activities, please do contact us.