Local authorities and HIV care and support

“We are currently supporting service users through in-house care at home/housing support provision.”

– Local Authority Staff

Local authorities see themselves as involved in the care and support for people living with HIV by contributing to: identifying individual care and support needs; undertaking care assessments; providing direct social work services; and referring people to third sector services.

Range of services may be needed

People living with HIV may need to access a range of services either provided or commissioned by local authorities throughout their lives, and the level of support required may change over time depending on a person’s individual needs and circumstances. This could include services to children, young people and families, community care services that allow people to remain in their own homes, and criminal justice services. All local authorities have a role in assessing people for the level of support they might require, and can often be the first point of contact for people.

“It [the local authority] has a coordinating and assessment role, supporting people into treatment and services.”
– Local authority staff member

Social work as key

If a person meets the requirements of social work support, the local authority staff will put together a care package to meet that person’s assessed needs. These services might be provided directly by the local authority or via a service commissioned by the local authority but delivered by an external organisation.

“Social work are currently involved with small numbers of service users with a known HIV diagnosis in the area. A number of service users known to the NHS for the purposes of health input and treatment, may never have the need to be referred to social work for an assessment of need. For those who do require an assessment of need, the outcome from this will determine what services, if any, they are eligible to access.”
– Local authority staff member

All local authorities provide a social work service, although the organisation and delivery of social work differs between local authority areas. Some local authorities described supporting people living with and at risk of HIV through a specific blood borne virus social work team, while others provided this support through more generic social work services (e.g. via housing or home care teams). Of the 16 local authorities who responded to our survey, four had specific blood borne virus social work teams. These teams worked with people living with HIV and/or viral hepatitis and were generally based within drug and alcohol services. Case study examples which further illustrate the types of support provided by local authorities are provided below.

CASE STUDY: Mental health and parenting support

“Ms M is a woman in her 40s, who has a long term diagnosis of HIV. Ms M has significant mental health issues and has difficulty in engaging with workers. Her support worker from the Drugs, Alcohol and Blood Borne Virus Team has established a good rapport and consistent relationship and provides support and intervention with regards to parenting, routine planning, engagement with services, advocacy and emotional regulation.”

- Local authority staff member

CASE STUDY: Housing and mental health support

“Mr B is a 50 year old man who was diagnosed with HIV approximately 25 years ago. He has been asymptomatic since then and has never been on treatment. Mr B has worked with the Social Work Drugs, Alcohol and Blood Borne Virus Team a number of times over the past fifteen years and has experienced some difficulty in engaging with the service.

"Mr B presents as having difficulty with anger management and has disclosed significant trauma. In addition to this, he is inappropriately housed and is on a maintenance prescription of methadone. Mr B is currently engaging with a social worker from the Drugs, Alcohol and Blood Borne Virus team. With support from his Social Worker, he has engaged with psychology services for support in regard to 'survivor guilt' (Mr B advises that all of the friendship group he had that were also HIV positive have died) and planned work regarding trauma.

"In addition to this, applications for housing have been made and support with regard to emotional regulation. Mr B has recently been advised that will need to embark on treatment for HIV and will be supported throughout this by his social worker.”


- Local authority staff member

CASE STUDY: Re-engaging with treatment

“Mr S is a man in his 40s, with a long term diagnosis of HIV. Mr S had recently returned to the area and crisis intervention was provided in terms of supporting him to re-engage with treatment, some welfare benefits support, and community engagement. Mr S is now self-employed and reports to being very happy.”

- Local authority staff member

Find out more

This information was accurate as of May 2015. Download this information as a briefing sheet [PDF - 41kB], go back to the local authorities and HIV main page, or read the next section, about challenges local authorities face.

Contact HIV Scotland for more detail, or to discuss.