Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Living well: addressing social isolation

Presenters in this session of the Positive Services Forum described programs that aimed to reduce social isolation and build resilience for people living with HIV. Programs included volunteer mentoring, the 'rock and water' program, support around food and nutrition, and a camp for HIV-affected families. A notable theme was funding through partnerships with the private sector.


Image from Michael Schmidt's 'Rock & Water' presentation.
Luke Trenwith (ACSA) - Positive Direction pilot program.
Luke described how the aim of this project is to reduce isolation. The pilot program has been operating successfully for around 9 months, involving 10 participants and 20 volunteers.

The program uses a one-on-one buddy system that encourages activities tailored to the indiviual participant's needs. The bulk of activities have been about being active and encouraging participants to get out of the house.

Relationship Australia SA has provided training - MAC cosmetics have provided funding.

Luke discussed elements of the pilot program that have been really successful, including:
  • 1  on 1 model
  • individual sense of well-being improving - long term goal is social resilience. 
  • partnership arrangements - positive life, medical services and RASA - working well. 
  • the importance of providing ongoing support for volunteers. Most participants have stayed with project.

Challenges include :
  • protocol on the run
  • tension between risk management vs project implementation.
  • meeting volunteers' needs.
  • highly resource intensive.

    Download presentation

Michael Schmidt (WAAC) - Rock and Water program
The program aims to provide pathways to self-awareness, based on a psycho-physical approach. The Rock represents awareness of one's own possibilities and personal journey in life, while Water - represents insight and experience - valuing flexibility within human relationship.


WAAC chose to run Rock & Water as it integrates the physical and emotional. It also responds to a sense that Michael and other PLHIV express around the feeling that their bodies have left them down - the program helps people to challenge this.

Download presentation

Campbell Smith - (VAC/GMHC) and Nalla Burk (Clinical Nurse Consultant) discussed Tuckerbox Meals, a health promotion program that aims to improve nutrition by teaching clients about cooking and delivering ingredients and recipes directly to them.

Aims include:
  • short-term targeted interventions to develop skills and inspire interest in cooking. 
  • the provision of extra meals to freeze for later 
  • changing eating habits through experience of healthy food options. 
Results have included:
  • weight gain 
  • improved appetite
  • increased health and well-being
  • increased engagement with family and friends through clients gaining the confidence in their abilities and hosting dinner parties for family and friends, or cooking together with other family members.
Download presentation

Deanna Blegg (Straight Arrows)  - Camp Seaside: connecting and engaging with families living with HIV


Camp Seaside began as an initiative in the  mid-1990s, and is offered to families nationally.  It has an extensive waiting list, is extremely popular and nationally recognised for its excellence.

The program provides families affected by HIV with the opportunity to "get away"and to meet others and share common experiences. Professional counsellors and dietitians are also available at the camp. The camp  addresses stigma discrimination and isolation, and helps  families establish support networks.

The presentation prompted participants at the forum to debate the key factors in successful social connection programs. Forum participants also asked about disclosing HIV status to children. Deanna responded that every situation is different, saying that it is up to the parents to decide how and when they choose to disclose to their children, there is no 'right' or 'wrong' way. She also explained that Straight Arrows is currently working on a resource regarding this. Download presentation

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