Making HIV testing more accessible

Fife Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) is pleased to announce that testing for HIV can now be carried out at home. A new free home testing kit is making testing easier and will lead to more people getting diagnosed earlier 

Self (Home)-testing is fast, safe, accurate and convenient and it provides people with another option that can help them get swift access to treatment if required. The test is quick to use, giving results within 15 minutes and support is available to anyone regardless of results.  

Fife HSCP’s Sexual Health & Blood Borne Virus (SH&BBV) services has worked in partnership with HIV Scotland, Waverley Care and Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland to develop and offer this new testing kit. 

 

Heather Bett, Fife HSCP Executive Lead for SH & BBV said: “Early diagnosis of HIV infection enables better treatment options and reduces the risk of transmitting the infection to others. Fife HSCP is committed to reducing new infections and late diagnosis of HIV. The free home testing kits areparticularly effective tools during the Coronavirus pandemic. They will help people get tested and treated early if they test positive. HIV is a virus that has been with us for a long time, but it is one that is preventable though a range of methods.  I would encourage anyone who thinks they may have been at risk of contracting HIV to seek advice about accessing a test from their GP or ordering a home testing kit online www.hivtest.scot and www.tht.org.uk.” 

 

Dr Naomi BulteelFife HSCP Consultant in Infectious Diseases said: We also want to raise awareness amongst GPs and clinicians about the importance of considering an HIV test as part of routine examinations, particularly where people may show symptoms of undiagnosed HIV. The earlier someone is diagnosed the better. Advances in medicines mean that people with HIV on effective treatment can live healthy lives with zero risk of passing on the virus sexually”. 

 

Nathan Sparling, Chief Executive, HIV Scotland said: 

Diagnosing HIV is the most important part of our mission to reach zero new HIV transmissions, so it’s important that different testing options exist, especially when the advice remains to stay at home due to the Coronavirus 

“For most people, self-testing is fast, safe, accurate and convenient – and it provides people with another option that can help people get swift access to treatment if needed. It’s important for everyone to know their HIV status so they can protect their health and that of their partners too. 

“With HIV Self Test Scotland, we can play our part in the global mission to get to zero by 2030.”  

 

The UK is one of the few countries in the world to have reached and exceeded all UNAIDS 90:90:90 targets. (90% of those infected, diagnosed, 90% of those diagnosed on treatment and 90% of those on treatment have an undetectable viral load)  Of those people living with HIV in the UK in 2018, 93% were diagnosed, 97% of people diagnosed were receiving treatment and 97% of people receiving treatment were virally suppressed (undetectable viral load). 

Latest Adult Support and Protection newsletter available

Here’s the latest newsletter from the Adult Support and Protection Committee. This is available in different formats (pdf and plain text format for those using assistive technology).

We also have an easy read version of the ‘Staying safe, keeping well’ leaflet – a reminder of support organisations’ contact details, information on staying safe from scammers and advice on keeping well during lockdown.

Kindness improves mental health – Mental Health Awareness Week 2020

Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 is focusing on how acts of ‘Kindness’ improve lives and communities. Mental Health Foundation research shows that ‘Kindness’ strengthens relationships, develops a sense of community and deepens feelings of solidarity. It is essential to our individual and collective mental health. 

Nicky Connor Director of the Fife Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) said: “I welcome the focus on ‘Kindness’ during National Mental Health Awareness Week and have been humbled by the many examples of kindness shown by individuals and communities across Fife during Covid 19.  Mental Health is a priority and Fife Health and Social Care Partnership is committed to caring for the mental wellbeing of communities in Fife and promoting ways to maintain good mental health.

Mental Health Awareness Week is also an opportunity to highlight how mental health services have responded to the coronavirus pandemic and how it has impacted those who use our health and social care services and our staff. We are showcasing the broad scope of work we undertake to support people and how kindness is a fundamental aspect of improving mental health for individuals and communities.”

Julie Paterson Divisional General Manager of the Fife Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) said: “Our staff provide high quality care and support which is matched to the unique needs and outcomes of individuals whether they are in hospital or living in the community.

The Fife Health and Social Care Partnership has developed a shared mental health strategy for Fife by engaging the people and communities of Fife. Titled ‘Let’s really raise the bar’ 2020-2024 the strategy outlines the importance of continuing to work closely with our partners to promote and support ways to maintain good mental health. There are many examples of the great work being done and how everyone is working together during these unprecedented times.”

The Fife Psychology Service moved very quickly in response to the Coronavirus pandemic and in just a week set up a staff hub and quiet zone for frontline health and social care staff. They are now available at locations across Fife including Maggie’s Centre, Kirkcaldy, Queen Margaret Hospital Dunfermline, Cameron Hospital, Windygate and the Ceres Centre, Stratheden.

Mental Health support in communities is being provided by Sam’s café and other voluntary organisations. Sam’s café is a mental health project that allows people to access help quickly and informally.  Based in KIrkcaldy and Dunfermline Sam’s café is providing help during the Covid-19 emergency by chatting to people by telephone and encouraging anyone who feels alone with their problems to get in touch.

The project is run by employees who have experienced mental issues giving them a unique insight into the problems people may have and enabling them to provide relevant advice and coping strategies. To find out more go to http://www.samscafe.org.uk/.

Podiatrists step in during Coronavirus outbreak

Podiatrists from Fife Health and Social Care Partnership have stepped in quickly to treat patients who would normally be cared for by district nurses. They are providing treatment for more than 100 patients in the community who are house bound and require dressings for wounds. 

The Podiatry service has put all non-critical podiatry care on hold so that podiatrists can use their expertise to treat patients and enable nursing colleagues to provide other critical care. 

Lynn Barker, Fife’s Health & Social Care Partnership’s Associate Director of Nursing said: “I’m immensely proud of the collaboration between the Podiatry and Community Nursing services. They are an outstanding example of the positive way staff across the Health and Social Care Partnership are responding during this challenging time.  The action taken by podiatry staff who have willingly taken on this new challenge to support patients, can’t be praised highly enough. It’s wonderful to see everyone pulling together in these difficult times. “ 

Allison Somerville, Community Diabetes Podiatrist said: “I’m glad we’re able to use our expertise to contribute to the care of this most vulnerable patient group and to support our community nursing colleagues.  As a service we’re continuing to provide urgent treatments for our most high-risk patients and we’re aware that we might be the only contact many vulnerable people have at this time.” 

 

Photo caption: Alison Somerville ‘selfie’ while at work

Are you making time for yourself?

Project You is a campaign running to promote the benefits of regularly taking time for yourself – ‘ to keep going sometimes you need to stop’.

Research has shown that over half of Fifers feel stressed. Life’s daily demands take a lot out of us and we need to find ways to take a break.

Over the next six weeks you will be able to access a wide range of practical advice on how to boost your mood and feel more in control.  By making time to go for a walk, have a blether with friends to switching off screens before bed can all make a difference.

For help and inspiration visit Project You.

Dr Frances Baty, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Head of Fife Psychology Service said, “If we don’t make time to take care of ourselves, we can get stressed. And not only can stress cause health problems it can make day to day life that much harder, affecting how you sleep, your relationships and your mood.

“For this reason, it is important to give yourself a break and do things that help you rest and re-charge. This is not selfish, it’s important as it will help you feel much more equipped to deal with life’s demands, and ultimately feel more in control.”

Minster for Mental Health Clare Haughey said, “Juggling work, family life and other demands can make people feel like they are running on empty. This campaign is about telling people it’s ok to regularly take time for themselves.”

“The everyday pressures of life can be overwhelming and change can seem difficult. However, as this campaign highlights small changes such as moving more, making time to catch up with friends or family or taking a five-minute breather can make a difference.