At the start of 2014, the ACET care staff responded to new referrals with diverse care support needs. The subsequent relationships built from these referrals involved support around stigma, addiction, disclosure, social inclusion and parent-child dynamics. During the same period, notable health challenges presented themselves with many existing clients. While overall health is always a main focus within our care work, extremely compromised medical conditions required a need for increased flexibility in approach. What resulted from this was more in-home and hospital care visits and phone support preventing further marginalisation and vulnerability. In 2014, there were 28 families and 67 clients needing intensive support. We also supported a number of individuals and extended client family members with one-off specific HIV support, resourcing, referrals.
The support included:
- Adult home care visits – 501 home care visits (381 by staff; 120 by volunteers)
- Clinic/medical accompaniment – 67
- Numerous respite days including residential provision for 21 adult and youth clients
- Counselling/bereavement – 67
Early spring also brought a women’s event specifically focusing on self-care and holistic support. These events are intentionally created with clients through care planning and identifying needs, such as personal development, peer support and positive mental health. Additionally, a pilot youth afternoon was held during mid-term break as a response to family referrals where parent and youth clients required respite and individualised mentorship. Follow-up youth activities were also provided during the Easter holidays which helped to initiate more summer plans and continued to build key relationships with the youth clients and their families.
Post-summer, considerable time was spent supporting clients and family members accessing health checks and HIV testing. There were a number of hospital-related care visits and supports offered to clients, including issues such as adherence to medication and addressing needs for respite following extended in-patient hospitalisation. In accordance with our family model, this meant extended support to family members during these hospital stays. Practically, ACET support through this time addressed a range of hardship issues for clients, including clothing, food, and providing advocacy towards welfare entitlements. During this time, an interagency approach was key for liaising with and referring clients to relevant supports including residential respite with a medical focus.
For many of those ACET work with, there are a number of bereavement anniversaries that occur toward the end of the year and the care team allocate specific time and space for vital emotional support. Another key challenge was preparing clients for the financial and social pressures of the weeks approaching Christmas. Bearing this in mind, one of the most consistent responses to this is our Hamper Project. This was successfully completed with donated and individualised hampers that are then delivered using an integrated care plan specifically focusing on many dynamics that come up at this time of year.
The summer featured a multi-family residential respite to the Cavan Centre over 3 days for 21 clients, including a newly integrated family to ACET’s family work.
We had a number of new clients referred to us who have had quite a range of diverse care plans through choosing to regularly engage with ACET’s care model.
ACET saw excellent adherence to HIV medication with specific clients and therefore moving to quarterly appointments, as well as moving to new & easier medications.
ACET experienced engagement with clients experiencing isolation when other services and resources weren’t necessarily available to them.
We provided a self-care focus on various types of respite days including women’s events, therapeutic space and residential opportunities.
The care team have had a busy few months so far in 2015, continuing to meet with individuals and families in their homes, out and about in cafes and clinics, and working with emerging and ongoing challenges, as well as celebrating and acknowledging the positive moments. Our hope is to continue with our ongoing family care projects, as well as putting together respite activities for young people and individuals’, depending on funding and client needs. This is always a huge focus of the summer months as there are more opportunities to come together, joining in on activities and continuing to build relationships. We are receiving new referrals from various hospitals, which gives further opportunity to support and care for those living with and affected by HIV.
Upon some reflection, we see our care work a bit like preparing for the Irish weather – you never know exactly what it will bring, but you try to be prepared for whatever is coming! You acknowledge the rainstorms and work through them, but rejoice when the sunshine is out and appreciate every moment of it. Some days are chaotic, some are beautiful and many of them are mixed but it really does seem so much easier when you have someone you trust who shows up and stands with you throughout it all. The care team aim to be the ones who show up in the midst of this, communicating to those we work with, “I hear you, I see you, and I’m here with you.” With the plans we have in place, we also want to acknowledge the space where God leads us to stand in the gap of hardship or isolation or hunger or sickness. We plan to help find goodness and beauty throughout hardships and disappointments, to unearth discarded joy and use it as a resource through those personal battles. Alongside these ideals for clients, we continue to help source the practical and emotional ways that ACET’s collaborative relationship fits into their life stories.
We look forward to the summer and all of the adventures and opportunities for relationship-building that lie ahead – whether it’s practical resourcing for clients, long chats over cups of tea in an inner-city cafe, a DART journey with young people headed back from the beach singing One Direction songs, or sitting beside someone in an overcrowded hospital; we are blessed to be in it with them, and pray for goodness and joy to abound in it all.
AIDS Care Education & Training Ireland