Prevention in Focus

Fall 2018 

Programming resources for peer health navigation in HIV

By Erica Lee

The recently released Practice guidelines in peer health navigation for people living with HIV provide guidance to service providers looking to develop, implement and strengthen peer health navigation programs at their organization. This article reviews the peer health navigation web portal that contains resources and tools to support the implementation of the guidelines.

What is peer health navigation for people living with HIV?

The Practice guidelines in peer health navigation for people living with HIV define a peer as “a person with HIV who also has lived experience and an intimate understanding of the circumstances in which many clients live their lives”.

The guidelines define health navigation for people living with HIV as “a person-centred approach to guide, connect, refer, educate and accompany people with HIV through systems of care. The goals of health navigation are to support people with HIV in their self-determined goals; build the capacity of clients to self-manage their HIV care and navigate systems themselves; and, ultimately, improve their HIV health and overall wellness”.

What are the Practice guidelines in peer health navigation for people living with HIV?

The Practice guidelines in peer health navigation for people living with HIV were developed by a national working group in partnership with CATIE and provide guidance to service providers looking to develop, implement and strengthen peer health navigation programs at their organization. The guidelines are based on research- and practice-based evidence and include 11 chapters that cover:

  • assessing peer and agency readiness;
  • defining navigator roles and responsibilities;
  • considering and addressing related ethical and policy considerations;
  • recruiting, selecting, compensating, training and supervising navigators;
  • integrating navigators into the host agency, and with community and healthcare partners; and
  • evaluating the peer health navigation program

What is the peer health navigation web portal?

The peer health navigation web portal provides access to the guidelines and contains resources and tools to help service providers implement guideline recommendations at their organization. While the recommendations outline what to do in a peer health navigation program, the resources and tools in the web portal provide complementary guidance and models on how to do it. Service providers looking for guidance on how to put the recommendations into practice can turn to the web portal, which was developed alongside the guidelines as a supplementary resource.

What kinds of resources and tools are in the peer health navigation web portal?

The portal contains links to resources and tools created by Canadian and international organizations. These resources include peer health navigation resources, as well as resources that may not be specific to peer health navigation or HIV but can still be used to inform peer health navigation programs.

Service providers can use the resources and tools in the portal as models of how to implement guideline recommendations in their work. The resources include:

  • Guides and manuals on how to approach activities such as training or ethical decision-making
  • Forms to collect information during activities such as client intake or program evaluation
  • Policies and procedures to provide standards for activities such as supervision or conflict resolution
  • Checklists and exercises to support organizational activities such as the integration of GIPA/MEPA (greater involvement/meaningful engagement of people living with HIV) principles and peer activities such as self-care

How can the peer health navigation web portal be used to implement recommendations from the practice guidelines?

The resources and tools in the web portal are organized by topic following the 11 chapters of the peer health navigation guidelines, allowing service providers to easily check the portal for resources on a particular chapter. The portal includes general resources that address broad topic areas covered in the guidelines, as well as resources that can be used to support a specific guideline recommendation.

To further illustrate the scope and potential use of the web portal, let’s take a closer look at the resources for one of the guideline chapters.

Chapter 7 of the practice guidelines covers responsibilities of the host agency related to peer health navigator training, including both training methods and training content. General resources on peer health navigator training in the portal outline what topics to cover during training and can include examples of training activities to be used. An example of a general resource is:

Building blocks to peer success: A toolkit for training HIV-positive peers

Peer Education and Training Sites/Resource and Evaluation Center (PETS/REC) Initiative

This toolkit reviews factors to consider when developing a peer training program and provides sample lessons, activities and case studies that can be used during training. The lessons cover core competencies and key understandings needed by peers working in programs to engage and retain people with HIV in care, including working in organizational settings, communication skills, boundaries, confidentiality, disclosure and self-care, among other topics.

Resources addressing individual recommendations in chapter 7 include practical tools to approach or understand specific training topics. An example of a specific recommendation from chapter 7 with a tool in the portal to inform its implementation is:

Recommendation 20: Train peer health navigators on self-care techniques and provide information on burnout, compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma. (Type of evidence: research and practice)

Resource: Essential tools for support and stability: Worker resource kit

AIDS Bereavement and Resiliency Program of Ontario

This skills-building resource helps peers identify and manage emotional triggers that may impact them when providing support to others.

The peer health navigation web portal will continue to grow as new resources and tools are identified and added to the collection. Additional resource recommendations for the portal are welcome and can be forwarded to programmingconnection@catie.ca for consideration.

Resources

Practice Guidelines for Peer Health Navigation for People Living with HIV: A new program development resource for community-based organizations (Part 1)Prevention in Focus Fall 2017

Practice Guidelines in Peer Health Navigation for People Living with HIV: A new program development resource for community-based organizations (Part 2)Prevention in Focus Spring 2018

About the author(s)

Erica Lee is the Information and Evaluation Specialist at CATIE. Since earning her Master of Information Studies, Erica has worked in the health library field, supporting the information needs of frontline service providers and service users. Before joining CATIE, Erica worked as the Librarian at the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT).