What's New - 2010
Update on activities and progress
(as of August, 2010)
- Information and Access Working Group (IAWG) focuses upon the priority to develop an accessible, coordinated HIV/AIDS service information system. The Working Group began meeting in 2006 bringing together local service information activities in Toronto into a partnership with the Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN). To date, two key strategies have been developed to facilitate access to information on services:
- ASO411 is an interactive mapping system that provides access to up-to-date information about HIV related services offered at AIDS Service Organizations (ASOs) and other organizations. The Working Group advises on its development in partnership with the OHTN and, as of 2009, with the Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange (CATIE). ASO 411 is now building service information Canada wide and has added explanatory text in French. THN has contributed a Spanish translation of the same text which will appear soon. Another important NEW feature is the option to print out the results of a search of only the services you are interested in. This also makes it easier for service providers to assist people without access to the internet. The next step is an evaluation process for ASO411.
- The IAWG advises the HIV/AIDS Community Calendar, a monthly calendar of programs and events for people living with HIV/AIDS in Toronto, administered by the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT).
- Housing Working Group re-convened in 2008 on the priority to improve access to a range of affordable and appropriate housing for people living with HIV/AIDS. They identified a critical need to break the cycle of homeless PHAs becoming ill--entering hospital/E.R.--being discharged--becoming ill-- entering hospital/E.R. A pilot project was developed and coordinated by McEwan Housing and Support Services (LOFT Community Services). THN helped to facilitate initial planning meetings, contributed towards a Needs Assessment and became one of the twelve formal partners to the project. The Service Coordination Pilot Project for Homeless PHAs provided intensive case management services to homeless PHAs with health, mental health and/or substance use problems, with one-year funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada. The pilot project proved effective in dramatically reducing E.R. visits and hospitalizations for clients and is now an ongoing LOFT program and multi-service partnership.
The Housing Working Group has provided representation to the Opening Doors Toronto planning committees to bring housing issues to those forums and has also brought information on the complex issues faced by homeless PHAs to discussions with the City of Toronto’s Streets to Homes program. Discussions on housing and care issues facing people with HIV with cognitive impairment are underway to determine what role the Working Group might best undertake and to seek related partnerships.
- A PHA Capacity Building Forum was held in November 2007 that shared best practices to improve planning and coordination to work on the priority to meet self identified training needs of PHAs. The forum was a partnership with the Committee for Accessible AIDS Treatment (CAAT), sponsored by the AIDS Bureau and the OHTN. It was followed by a guide to "PHA Training Programs: Toronto" (March 2008) which was updated this year. The Forum’s results were a catalyst to form a Working Group in August 2008 on Accreditation and Coordination (of PHA capacity building programs). The Working Group seeks to strengthen recognition and coordination of PHA related training programs to increase meaningful involvement of People Living with HIV/AIDS. In 2009 two ambitious projects were initiated by the Working Group that are currently underway:
- PHA Learning Partnership is a PHA-centered web portal near completion. The portal provides a single point of access for PHAs to self manage information on capacity building programs and access related information. The initial development has been undertaken by a partnership of AIDS Bereavement and Resiliency Program of Ontario (ABRPO), African & Caribbean Council on HIV/AIDS in Ontario (ACCHO), Committee for Accessible AIDS Treatment (CAAT), Ethnoracial Treatment Support Network (ETSN), Ontario AIDS Network (OAN), Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN); and THN providing coordination support.
- HIV/AIDS core skills Volunteer Training project is engaged in developmental work towards building a coordinated and inclusive volunteer training curriculum to support both ASO volunteer needs and capacity building needs of PHAs and other volunteers. With the help of an Advisory Committee of Volunteer Coordinators, THN has so far undertaken a scan of core skills HIV/AIDS Volunteer Training in Toronto and conducted a consultation with volunteer coordinators, program coordinators and volunteers.
- The Employment, Occupation and Income Security Working Group (EOI) began in 2009 to work on the priority to advocate to address income and employment-related needs. They are exchanging information about issues and services and exploring opportunities to contribute to these issues in Toronto while connecting with strategies active at other levels. Initially they focused upon a Toronto specific issue affecting volunteers on ODSP.
- Opening Doors is an annual forum for dialogue amongst service providers and PHAs on frontline counselling issues, funded by the AIDS Bureau. Opening Doors Toronto was re-initiated in 2008-09 through ACT in partnership with THN and a multi-agency Planning Committee. 2009-10 was a transition year to shift organizing responsibilities to THN. The March 2009 forum focused upon issues of long-term survivors and the March 2010 forum focused upon the issues experienced by street involved people living with HIV.
Step by step the priorities identified in the 2007 Plan and emerging issues are being undertaken through Working Groups, projects and partnerships. The Steering Committee monitors progress and initiates new activities as resources allow meet the priority to establish an ongoing HIV/AIDS planning and coordination committee.
A Working Group to recommend how to improve the responsiveness to PHAs by the broader health and social services sector has had an initial meeting. A project to support increasing access to services by diverse communities is beginning September. THN also participates in a partnership endeavour led by the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation to enhance Toronto’s Regional Food Strategy for PHAs through a community action research project.