Each year the residents and volunteers at Our House create a resident vegetable garden to supplement the food that is prepared for them with freshly picked vegetables and fruits. Much of this harvest will also go to our food bank, Esther's Pantry to provide others with HIV to supplement their food supply.
This year we collaborated with Growing Gardens - a non-profit company in Portland that provides materials and expertise to build gardens throughout the metro area. With the help of significant fundraising from our donors, we were able to build planter boxes that are wheelchair accessible so that all of our residents can plant, nurture, grow and harvest from the garden.
All the people involved in this project are excited to see what this new garden can produce. It not only enhances the lives of the residents, staff and volunteers, but also adds to the beauty of the neighborhood and the environment.
When the AIDS Epidemic began over 30 years ago, many people that were afflicted were in their 20's and 30's. Now these people are in their 50's and 60's. Because HIV accelerates the effects of aging, many issues such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney and liver disease are exacerbated. Much of the cognitive issues associated with age can be confused with AIDS related dementia.
As people with HIV age and begin to go into assisted living, adult foster care, or nursing care, it is very important that the caregivers have the knowledge to be able to treat the disease properly - without any stigma associated with it. That's what makes the Caregiver Training programs so important.
Although the extreme stigma of the 80's has decreased, there still is discrimination and fear among both caregivers and other clients of long-term care facilities that can make it very difficult for someone with HIV to live there. We continue to educate caregivers when we can and when we see issues arise.
With healthcare transformation imminemt in Oregon and the nation, we need to look at the most efficient way to meet our care needs. Many of our clients with higher acuity require caregivers - whether it be friends, relatives or professionals, they need to be aware of the unique nature of HIV and the specific care needs. As we work closely with our clients and their caregivers we provide them with tools to be able to live independently without having to utilize higher levels of care - only when necessary.
While we are in the beginning stages of this project, as we gain more support from key providers, we will create a new model that includes not only the client, but the caregivers as well.
This model will help meet the "Triple Aim" of the new healthcare systems.