CHW CORE COMPETENCY TRAINING DAYS
Day 1: Professional Roles, Skills & Conduct
Professional skills for CHWs include how to handle ethical challenges as they address legal and social challenges facing the clients and communities they serve. Client confidentiality and privacy rights must be protected in the context of employer and legal reporting requirements. Care for clients must be balanced with care for self. CHWs understand that it is necessary to be aware of one’s own emotional and behavioral responses to clients and community members and to manage personal feelings productively in order to maintain effectiveness. CHWs must be able to act decisively in complex circumstances but also to utilize supervision and professional collaboration. They must observe agency rules and the regulations governing public and private resources while exercising creativity in helping community members meet their individual and family needs.
Day 2: Public Health Concepts & Approaches
The knowledge base for CHW practice is strongly influenced by the field of public health. Public health is a science-based discipline that focuses on protecting and promoting population health, preventing illness and injury, eliminating health inequities, and working to improve the health of vulnerable communities and populations. CHWs, like other public health practitioners, understand that individual health is shaped by family, community, and wider “social determinants of health.” CHWs often use their knowledge of the larger contexts of clients’ lives to provide support for them to overcome barriers or improve conditions that affect their health.
Day 3: Outreach Methods & Strategies
Outreach is the process of contacting, engaging with, and helping people to learn about and use resources to improve their health and well-being. Outreach may be conducted with individuals, groups, organizations, and at the community level. In outreach, CHWs “meet people where they are,” building relationships based on listening, trust, and respect. This can take place in diverse settings, including where people live, work, learn, worship, socialize, play, exercise, and conduct business. There are a variety of outreach methods, such as phone calls, in-person conversations, group presentations, distribution of print and electronic information, and social media. Effective outreach is based on learning about community needs and strengths, knowledge about available resources, and sensitivity to personal and cultural dynamics that affect behavior and relationships.
Day 5: Culturally Responsive Care
CHWs act as cultural mediators. CHWs educate and support providers in working with clients from diverse cultures, and help clients and community members interact effectively with professionals working in different organizations to promote health, improve services, and reduce disparities. Culture is defined here as beliefs, values, customs, and social behavior shared by a group of people with common identity. Identity may be based on race, ethnicity, language, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, health condition, education, income, place, profession, history, or other factors. Culture also includes organizational cultures, which are reflected in how organizations deliver services. CHWs encourage and help enable clients to participate in decisions that affect their lives, families, and communities.
Day 6: Boundary Setting & Documentation
CHWs help promote coordinated and effective services by documenting their work activities, including writing summaries of client and community assessments. They often present information to agency colleagues or community partners about their clients and issues they face. Generally in Massachusetts, CHWs use computer technology and communicate in English, but alternative arrangements may be made in order to utilize valuable linguistic capacities, cultural experience, and community relationships that individual CHWs may bring to their work.
Day 7: Individual & Community Assessment
Assessment is the collection, synthesis, and use of information to help understand the needs, strengths, and resources of the individuals and communities CHWs serve. CHWs share this information with clients, professional colleagues, and community partners to help plan and carry out effective programs, services, and advocacy based on shared priorities. They engage people in honest and often difficult discussions about health status and behavior. They also gain insights about needed resources and changes and share their understanding with appropriate parties in order to help achieve desired outcomes. Assessment is an ongoing process that, when combined with regular evaluation of progress, helps assure effective, client and community-centered care.
Day 8: Care Coordination & Systems Navigation
Coordination of care and system navigation for individuals and families means that CHWs help people understand and use the services of health providers and other service organizations. They also help address practical problems that may interfere with people’s abilities to follow provider instructions and advice. CHWs help bridge cultural, linguistic, knowledge and literacy differences among individuals, families, communities and providers. They help improve communications involving community members and agency or institutional professionals. CHWs understand and share information about available resources, and support planning and evaluation to improve health services.
Day 9: Education to Promote Healthy Behavior Change
Education for healthy behavior change means providing people with information, tools, and encouragement to help them improve their health and stay healthy over time. CHWs respect people’s experience and their abilities to learn, take advantage of resources, and set priorities for changing their own behavior. CHWs work with clients, family and community members, and providers to address issues that may limit opportunities for healthy behavior. The CHW acts as educator and coach, using a variety of techniques to motivate and support behavior change to improve health.
Day 10: Advocacy & Community Capacity Building
Advocacy is working with or on behalf of people to exercise their rights and gain access to resources. Capacity building is helping people develop the confidence and ability to assume increasing control over decisions and resources that affect their health and well-being. Community capacity building involves promoting individual and collective empowerment through education, skill development, networking, organizing, and strategic partnerships. Capacity building requires planning, cooperation, and commitment, and it may involve working to change public awareness, organizational rules, institutional practices, or public policy.