NAT launches new report on HIV social care spending and services.
NAT today launches ‘HIV social care in England – a survey of local council funding’, looking into how HIV social care spending and services have changed over time. This report compares results with a similar survey from NAT in 2008.
Social care provides vital support for some people living with HIV, ensuring they can live fulfilling lives. This can include help coming to terms with diagnosis, managing treatment, or relationships, as well as peer support, counselling, and personal care.
Encouragingly, even in a time of severe cuts in local authority funding, the report shows that many local councils still recognise the real social care needs of people with HIV, and aim to meet them. This is largely due to the retaining of an indicative allocation for HIV social care within local council funding from central Government as welll as the powerful case being made for HIV social care at the local level by people with HIV and organisations which support them.
However, restricted budgets are having a negative impact on HIV social care provisions. For example, money is being diverted from the HIV social care allocation to make up for cuts in other areas meaning some services are less available. In addition, people with HIV must now be determined to have ‘substantial need’ to qualify for any individual social care support. This may mean people with HIV are neglected until they reach crisis point, when it is less easy and more costly to help.
Key recommendations from the report include:
- Local councils must improve their needs assessments and their evaluation of the impact of the social care they provide to people with HIV.
- Individual assessments for eligibility for social care must take full account of the complexities of HIV, including the psychological impact, stigma and fluctuating conditions.
- Funding for voluntary sector organisation to provide low threshold open access services for anyone with HIV in need is more important than ever and must be continued.
- Social workers and other relevant local council staff need appropriate HIV training if they are to meet people's needs effectively - there remains a vital role for HIV specialist social workers
Deborah Jack, Chief Executive of NAT (National AIDS Trust), comments:
‘It is encouraging to see that many local councils have not forgotten the vital social care needs of people living with HIV. However, this does not mean that services are without threat in this time of cuts.
‘It is crucial for local councils to ensure that the specific allocation for HIV social care within the Formula Grant is spent on meeting the needs of people with HIV and not divert to other areas. In addition, everyone working in social care should have a good knowledge of HIV so they are confident in dealing with the related issues.
‘The preventive value of social care for should also not be overlooked by local councils. By investing in simple low cost social care interventions, people with HIV are more likely to stay well, adhere to treatment and take the necessary steps to avoid passing the infection on – which saves the NHS money in the long term.’
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Notes to the editor:
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NAT (National AIDS Trust) is the UK’s leading charity dedicated to transforming society’s response to HIV. We provide fresh thinking, expertise and practical resources. We champion the rights of people living with HIV and campaign for change.
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