The Vital Role of the Community Health Worker

The vital role of CHWsCommunity Health Workers (CHWs) are now part of the interdisciplinary work teams for Home Health, Family Health and JumpStartScreens at MVNA.  This role provides outreach, information, referral to community resources, advocacy and other client support to promote health and help clients meet their plan of care.  Ultimately, CHWs help to not only provide clinical services but to extend our reach to assist clients with accessing other vital social support wrap-around services and meeting the holistic needs of clients.

According to the Minnesota Community Health Worker Alliance, the roles and scope of practice of the CHW is:

Role 1:  Bridge the gap between communities and the health and social service systems

  1. Enhance care quality by aiding communication between provider and patient to clarify cultural practices.
  2. Educate community members about how to use the health care and social service systems.
  3. Educate the health and social service systems about community needs and perspectives.
  4. Establish better communication processes.

Role 2:  Navigate the health and human services system

  1. Increase access to primary care through culturally competent outreach and enrollment strategies.
  2. Make referrals and coordinate services.
  3. Teach people the knowledge and skills needed to obtain care.
  4. Facilitate continuity of care by providing follow-up.
  5. Enroll clients into programs such as health insurance  and  public assistance.
  6. Link clients to and inform them of available community resources.

Role 3:  Advocate for individual and community needs

  1. Articulate and advocate needs of community and individuals to others.
  2. Be a spokesperson for clients when they are unable to speak for themselves.
  3. Involve participants in self and community advocacy.
  4. Map communities to help locate and support needed services.

Role 4:  Provide Direct Services

  1. Promote wellness by providing culturally appropriate health information to clients and providers.
  2. Educate clients on disease prevention.
  3. Assist clients in self-management of chronic illnesses and medication adherence.
  4. Provide individual social and health care support.
  5. Organize and/or facilitate support groups.
  6. Refer and link to preventive services through health screenings and healthcare information.
  7. Conduct health related screenings.

Role 5:  Build Individual and Community Capacity:

  1. Build individual capacity to achieve wellness.
  2. Build community capacity by addressing social determinants of health.
  3. Identify individual and community needs.
  4. Mentor other CHWs – capacity building.
  5. Seek professional development (continuing education).