Good Works, Better Practices, Great Homes
An interactive guide to operating AIDS housing



During the intake, the foundation is laid for building a relationship of mutual trust and respect. The ultimate goal of the intake is to begin the groundwork for providing comprehensive and useful services to the client. One difficult aspect of this relationship is the dual role of the program staff, usually the case manager, who serves as both advocate for the client and as a representative of the program. While a case manager serves primarily as an advocate, the case manager must explain the need to enforce the program’s rules and regulations. When the client’s individual interest conflicts with the rules of the program, the case manager may not be able to advocate fully for the client’s interest. This conflict of interest can make building trust more difficult. However, this problem can be alleviated to some extent by making the two roles distinct and clear.

The "case management plan" (sometimes called the "service plan" or "treatment plan") should encompass client-driven goals and should not be tied to the client’s right to remain housed by the program. Upon intake, if it is possible, the rules and requirements of the program might be reviewed with the client in a meeting with a staff member other than the case manager. The client will need to know what the consequences are for failing to follow the rules and the grievance procedure available if she wishes to protest them. Particular attention should be paid to explaining rules that require the client to give up some civil liberty (e.g. urine surveillance or staff access to rooms). These kinds of procedures can be particularly damaging to a client’s trust unless she feels that the circumstances under which they are allowed are clear, explained ahead of time, and that the rules are consistently applied.

Of paramount importance in providing supportive housing for persons living with HIV/AIDS is the client’s confidentiality. In order to feel safe about the information she is giving, it is helpful for the client to understand the organizational structure of your program. She will need to know who within the organization has access to her file and under what circumstances others would be allowed access to information. She should be informed that staff are required by law to maintain her confidentiality. For independent living programs, special attention needs to be taken in preserving client confidentiality in the program’s relationship with the landlord.  This includes coaching other service providers that work with the participant, particularly those that will visit the client at home or otherwise interact with her in the community.

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