Supporting the Supporter Research Think Tank

Supporting the supporter research think tank March 2014

Through collaborative partnerships with the CIHR Centre for REACH, Committee for Accessible AIDS Treatment and Ontario HIV Treatment Network organized a national research think tank with a goal to share knowledge and regional priorities for addressing the needs of PHA service providers. Held in Toronto on March 6 – 8, 2014, the think tank was attended by about 60 participants including PHAs in
different service provision roles, researchers, policy makers and other HIV service providers.

The objectives of the think tank were: 1) to share knowledge and regional priorities in addressing needs of PHA service providers,
and to form a knowledge exchange network to continue work beyond the think tank; 2) to identify research gaps and priorities and to develop a national research agenda focusing on the support needs of PHA service providers.

The think tank proceedings included:

1: A PHA networking session and opening panel presentation to share experiences and strategies that support PHA roles as
service providers in the HIV/AIDS sector. 20 PHA delegates attended the networking session and agreed on 5 key themes for presentation at the opening panel such as: need for structured support at the work place; organizational support for meaningful implementation of GIPA/MIPA; stigma reduction in accessing services; managing boundary challenges and prioritizing self-care.

2: Literature review and program scan about regional priorities and resources for supporting PHA engagement in service provider roles. Despite the priorities identified, several individual, organizational and public policy –level strategies were identified including
sharing lived experiences, integration of MIPA/GIPA in human resource policies .

3: Project development based on priorities. Participants brainstormed key issues and priorities which were summarized in 5 thematic
areas – support, training, program innovations, public policies, systems accountability, and organizational level support.

At the end of the 3-day think tank, evaluation results from the participants strongly agreed that the forum was effective in
sharing knowledge and regional priorities in addressing needs of PHA service providers. Almost all agreed that it was a positive experience and an ‘opportunity to network face to face with other PHAs providing service’.

In concluding, the think tank provided a platform to share needs, priorities and opportunities to address the gaps in PHA service
providers. Moving forward, two co-chairs were elected – Marvelous Muchenje-Marisa and Brian Huskins to work collaboratively with the research team and oversee the follow up work. Action items include – a report in French & English to be sent to all participants, and later to stakeholders, project teams meeting via teleconference calls and core research team members Alan Li, Greg Harris & Sarah Peddle to develop a proposal to obtain working group status.

Our heartfelt appreciation goes to the think tank participants from across Canada, research team members, project staff Marisol Desbiens & Joanna Kapusta), Sarah Peddle at Atlantic Region Centre for REACH, Kadidja Mone, Victoria Bale, Wendy Jamurath & Victoria Bale at OHTN, Henry Luyombya from CAAT for their assistance in administrative and logistic support.

Additional reporting by: Sarah Peddle,  Henry Luyombya & Maureen Owino.