The South Carolina Community Health Worker Association (SCCHWA) is made up of Community Health Workers (CHWs) and supporters who are building a healthier South Carolina through the promotion of education, networking and advocacy for the community health worker profession. The association provides a forum for networking, sharing of strategies and resources, and provide a foundation for education of CHWs and the organizations and systems that support them.
- Align CHW training in South Carolina with nationally established core competencies, including standardizing the experiential learning component of CHW curriculum.
- Promote uniform standards and requirements for the training, certification, and continuing education of CHWs and CHW Instructors in South Carolina.
- Educate those working in the health and social service sectors about the role, scope of services, evidence of success, and best practices related to CHWs.
- Develop and enhance opportunities for building the CHW workforce and its capacity to succeed.
CHW Scope of Work
CHWs work with many different types of partners including health care providers, managed care plans, human service organizations and community-based organizations. Job duties typically involve three main components: Helping people navigate health care and human services systems; providing culturally appropriate health education; and building individual and community capacity. It can also include care coordination or case management and advocating for individuals or communities served by the CHW.
Navigate the health and human services system:
- Coach individuals about how to use the health care and social service systems.
- Educate the health and social service systems about the needs and perspectives of individuals being served.
- Facilitate communication between health and social service providers and individuals.
- Facilitate continuity of care through education, support and reinforcement.
- Identify potential enrollees and assist them with applications for programs such as health insurance and public assistance.
- Inform individuals about and connect them with health and social service resources they may need.
- Provide feedback on system-related challenges associated with referring individuals to community agencies and providers.
Provide culturally appropriate health education:
- Provide culturally appropriate health information to clients, providers and communities.
- Educate individuals and communities about disease prevention, health promotion and infectious disease prevention (e.g. immunizations). Provide information about disease appropriate resources when necessary to help track and manage chronic conditions, such as monitoring blood glucose levels, BMI as well as appropriate usage of telehealth technology when available and appropriate.
- Assist individuals with self-management of chronic health conditions and medication adherence.
- Help individuals set measurable health improvement and self-management goals.
- Organize and/or facilitate support groups.
- Facilitate access to preventive services such as health screenings.
Build individual and community capacity:
- Articulate and advocate for the needs of individuals and populations in the community.
- Address/educate community members regarding identified community health needs.
- Coach individuals regarding advocacy on behalf of themselves and their community.
- Help build individual and community relationships.
- When possible, mentor other CHWs to help them benefit from prior experience and build capacity and expertise more efficiently.
- Identify continuing professional development needs and ways to fulfill them.
- Identify, articulate and help resolve, to the fullest extent possible, systemic problems inhibiting access to care.
- Respecting HIPAA guidelines, report to supervisors, service providers and/or community partners the plans, activities and progress.
- Document all work in a timely manner through the established administrative processes for both the individual clinical practice and for the funding agency.
- Provide social and emotional support to those being served.
- Gather data from individuals and the community that can be used to inform decision makers about population health needs and possible ways to address those needs.
SC CHW Core Competencies
1) Outreach Methods and Strategies
CHWs must be involved in on-going outreach efforts, understanding:
- How to “meet people where they are”;
- How to work with underserved populations;
- How to use strategies and methods to bring services to where a population (or group) resides and works; and
- How to assist community people in finding and using resources and assist in creating and supporting connections among community members and caregivers.
2) Client and Community Assessment
CHWs must make on-going efforts to identify community and individual needs, concerns and assets, including:
- Drawing upon standard knowledge of basic health and social indicators to clearly define needs;
- Engaging clients and/or their families in on-going assessment efforts as part of the outreach planning process; and
- Using skills to do community assessment that informs the development of an outreach plan and strategy that providers can use for a target population or community.
3) Effective Communication
CHWs must communicate effectively with clients about individual needs and concerns, including:
- Sharing information about basic health and topics in clear and culturally appropriate ways; and
- Communicating with other community health workers and professionals using appropriate terminology and effective communication methods.
4) Culturally-Based Communication and Care
CHWs must be able to speak clearly and effectively, demonstrate a respectful attitude and a deep cultural knowledge in all aspects of their work with individuals, their families, community members and colleagues, including:
- Conveying information that considers the cultural and educational attributes of the clients and their families they are serving; and
- Utilizing appropriate conflict resolution skills in culturally competent ways when challenging what might be “traditional” patterns of behavior.
5) Health Education for Behavior Change
CHWs must make an effort to assist individuals and their families in achieving desired behavioral changes, including
- Demonstrating the ability to convey reliable information about positive and negative effects of behaviors in order to help clients and their families adopt health promoting behaviors;
- Utilizing evidence-based knowledge when identifying barriers to change, and effectively engaging clients and/or their families in following intervention protocols; and
- Using motivational interviewing techniques to facilitate health behavior change.
6) Information about Common Chronic Diseases and Mental Health
CHWs will assist individuals in navigating the health care system, improving individuals’ health knowledge, understanding their health condition(s), and developing strategies to help them improve their overall health and well-being.
7) Support, Advocate and Coordinate Care for Clients
CHWs must advocate for and coordinate care for their clients. CHWs must:
- Demonstrate how to become familiar with and maintain contact with agencies and professionals in the community in order to secure needed care for their clients;
- Demonstrate how to effectively engage others in building a network of community and professional support for their clients; and
- Demonstrate effective strategies to participate in community and agency planning and evaluation efforts that are aimed at improving care and bringing needed services into the community.
8) Apply Public Health Concepts and Approaches
CHWS must see their work as one part of the broader context of public health practice. CHWs must:
- Demonstrate understanding the bigger picture of the basic principles of public health;
- Demonstrate how this knowledge will help them better assist individuals, families and communities in understanding the basic role for prevention, education, advocacy and the community’s participation in achieving optimal health; and
- Demonstrate how this knowledge advances self-efficacy for CHWs in their roles and in advocating for their own needs, as well as for the needs of others.
9) Community Capacity Building
CHWs play a critical role in increasing the abilities of their communities to care for themselves. CHWs must:
- Demonstrate the ability to work together with other community members, workers and professionals to develop collective plans to increase resources that would positively impact health in their community; and
- Demonstrate the skills to expand broader public awareness of community needs.
10) Writing and Technical Communication Skills
CHWs are required to write and prepare clear reports about their clients, their own activities and their assessments of individual and community needs. CHWs must:
- Deliver presentations to other workers and agency professionals regarding the needs and concerns of their clients;
- Prepare written reports in a clear, accurate, timely manner using appropriate terminology;
- Use technology effectively for reporting; and
- Provide timely documentation to their colleagues and professionals in the health and social service system.
A CHW is a frontline health worker who is seen as a trusted member of the community s/he serves.
A CHW must:
- Strive to communicate effectively to maximize the likelihood of achieving the best health outcomes possible for the individuals and communities they serve;
- Maintain confidentiality;
- Demonstrate cultural sensitivity;
- Have an understanding of their own expertise and make timely and appropriate referrals,;
- Understand their legal obligations to report actual or potential harm to individuals;
- Show respect for human rights and not discriminate against individuals; and
- Maintain personal boundaries in all professional relationships.
A certification with SCCHWA provides opportunities for furthering knowledge, skills, and formal education.