Elderly Living with HIV Abused in Care


“L’avi”, by Jean Sorolla

“Residents are not reporting abuse, passive discrimination is rife and retribution for complaints is common place”

From the edge looking in it would appear that there is a huge cross over between the spheres of LGBTIQ+ and HIV+ with service provision implications as a result of entrenched discrimination and 2nd class citizenship status being similar.
For those freshly arrived to this issue, Perth has recently been host to Former High Court Justice Michael Kirby and Commissioner Tim Wilson from the Australian Human Rights Commission who both confirmed the fact of the entrenched nature of discrimination facing minority groups. 
It would appear that many NGOs are more than happy to recognise there are systematic problems in Aged Care Settings, but all seem unable to provide a PLAN or policy of how to fix anything! It would appear that in spite of the many conference buffets that have been sacrificed to talking about Ageing most agencies are quick to exclaim “not our problem” when pressed. 
On the 28th March 2015 the NAPWHA Forum WA (National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS) was held and the issue of HIV Aged Care was discussed and members voted on a number of motions to take action on behalf of the HIV+ Community.  
For the record, attendees and participants at the Perth NAPWHA Forum included The National President of NAPWHA Robert Mitchell, Vice President Cipri Martinez, WA Reps Isaac Buckley, Paul Baines and 25 Positive People. The meeting elected also elected a spokesperson for the Forum on HIV Aged Care.
The concerns are regarding the reporting of abuse and care of Aged Care residents living with HIV and Blood Borne Virus within Aged Care facilities. 
Several concerns about HIV Aged Care were tabled and the NAPWHA Forum, is seeking the assistance of the Health Consumer’s Council of WA to obtain the answers to a series of questions, see below, which have not been answered by various NGOs. Action Motions to seek assistance from the Health Consumer’s Council for assistance were passed by all who attending the Forum. 
Reporting by residents and on the ground monitoring has been identified as a major problem for LGBTIQ+ residents in Aged Care by GRAI, Advocare and The Equal Opportunity Commission of WA and this suggests that residents are not reporting abuse, passive discrimination is rife and retribution for complaints is common place and as such these all will be major issues for residents with Blood Borne Virus’ and/or Sexual or Gender Diverse People that are now moving into residential aged Care.  
The HIV Training Courses for Aged Care that do exist are currently voluntary for Nursing Homes to undertake, and when implemented staff are also able to self-select whether to attend or not. This suggests that those Staff most in need of attitudinal support will not receive cultural education and the danger is that training will be kind of like preaching to the choir!
The Perth NAPWHA Forum supported this training becoming compulsory as part of the Aged Care Facilities Accreditation and supported the creation of a Blood Borne Virus Advocate Position to provide support and protection for residents in private and public aged care facilities. 
The rationale for this is that an Advocate for Blood Borne Virus would be able to provide ‘on the ground monitoring’ of aged care residents who are incapable of reporting this abuse themselves as well as have the responsibility to provide the details of this abuse to the appropriate authorities for action.
It is interesting that the HIV+ Community in WA are not calling for this Advocate Position to be located within an AIDS Industry Organisation. Is this a sign of the relationship “breakdown” or a disengagement between Positive People and AIDS Service Providers?
HIV+ People in States other than WA might be wise to consider asking their local NAPWHA Rep or Health Consumer Organisation the following questions too:
Q1.  What certifications and checks will be done to ensure that GP’s who work in aged care facilities are knowledgeable on HIV Health related issues for residents, especially for those residents who are unable to afford Private GP Call Outs?
Q2. Will residents living with HIV be given priority to relocate, in the event of being given a bed within an aged care facility, which has not yet adopted the voluntary training courses regarding aged care for HIV Positive people and where it is shown to have been discriminatory and or abusive towards HIV positive residents?
Q3. Which HIV authority are aged care workers required to report abuse of residents to?
Q4. What is the responsibility of State-based AIDS Councils for residents in aged care as it is funded by Federal Government? 
Q5. Which HIV based organisation is responsible for advocating for the appropriate care of residents within aged care facilities on behalf of the residents, if they request it?
Q6. HIV specialising GPs are up to date with all the training and skills to recognise and deal with HIV specific complications and treatments for HIV positive residents of aged care facilities.  What arrangements are in place for these HIV specialising GPs to service HIV positive residents, at no cost, when there is a clear need for this level of service to be provided?
There is also a huge difference between the quality of care within a private nursing home and the public setting. Calling a spade a spade, anyone who is likely to be “sailing into the sunset” in cattle class aka public should be starting to ask questions and agitating for public policy change in aged care settings, NOW!
Finally, a quick promo for the NAPWHA Forum, if you or anyone you know are HIV+ and you/they would like to get on the mailing list or participate in future Forums, (the next one is in September) then please  email the WA NAPWHA Reps, Paul & Izaac
Click here for more information about The National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA)