People living with HIV can face many barriers to health care and treatment – including addiction, mental illness, extreme poverty, homelessness, isolation and discrimination. By developing therapeutic, trusting relationships with clients, nurses at the Dr. Peter Centre are able to help clients increase adherence to HIV treatment and improve their overall health, while addressing each individual’s personal needs and risk factors.
A Sense of Connection
Dr. Peter Centre nurses provide a range of daily services for clients including medication administration, wound care and health promotion. By working within the interdisciplinary team at the Dr. Peter Centre, nurses engage with clients in an environment where there are counsellors, a nutritionist, and art, music and recreation therapists. The integrated environment benefits the participant by ensuring uninterrupted engagement in treatment and care and enables participants to be actively engaged in their own health care.
As one of our Registered Nurses at the Dr. Peter Centre explains, "Each opportunity to offer a nursing service is an opportunity to build relationships and gain a deeper understanding of the client and their experience. Connecting on a regular basis is so important because we are then able to engage with clients about their health in meaningful ways, offering nursing services that are individualized and relevant, and that optimize continuity of care."
In 2008, the Dr. Peter Centre integrated a Nurse Practitioner role into the team, significantly enhancing care and helping to keep some of the Centre’s most complex clients from “falling through the cracks.”
From Engagement to Treatment as Prevention
The support provided by our clinical team enables clients to maintain adherence to HIV medication, which keeps the HIV virus from reproducing in the body. By suppressing the HIV “viral load”, medication helps to protect an individual’s immune system and reduces the likelihood of transmitting the HIV virus to other people. An HIV positive person on their prescribed medication can live a near normal lifespan, and is 96% less likely to spread the disease.
Reducing Harm from Substance Use
Along with HIV and coexisting illnesses, Dr. Peter Centre participants have experienced extreme poverty, violence, abuse, mental illness and 70% live with active addiction. To meet their very complex health needs, the Dr. Peter Centre's multidisciplinary clinical team is guided by a model of care. An important aspect is implementing harm reduction strategies, such as supervised injection service (SIS), which brings individuals off the street and into health care, while preventing infection, overdose death, and the spread of HIV.