Community health worker training teaches high-tech, high-tech support for better health

Sandall says CHWs will be embedded in the communities they serve and represent the diversity of those neighborhoods. Many members of the first class of CHWs have previously served as pandemic health workers who were developed during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, helping to support individuals with digital tools for keep them connected to their healthcare team and all the resources they might need to keep them healthy and out of hospital. Sandall says they are passionate and most have visited many community organizations (CBOs) before.

“To understand all of their offerings…to understand the funding because that changes a lot with CBOs. This is something we have learned with the pandemic and by aligning individuals with resources so that they gain more expertise, they will certainly be able to guide and support individuals in the community to the resources they need.

Maura Lansing is one of those passionate, newly trained CHWs who also worked to support individuals during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. She says the training by ICC went beyond what she already knew through first-hand experience.

“We talked and learned how we could become community advocates and we could actually plan community events based on a health care issue, and all the different ways we could reach the community as a whole, as well as to help individual patients. »

The class uses specially trained actors

Ann Willemsen-Dunlap of OSF jump simulation is a curriculum developer who designed the training to exceed core competencies identified but not yet finalized by the Illinois Council on Higher Education and the Illinois Department of Public Health. Willemsen-Dunlap incorporated the use of Jump’s Standardized Participants (SP) – trained actors – a unique aspect of the program.

“They are trained to coach and give feedback to our Community Health Worker apprentices and help shape how they move forward and interact with clients later. Few programs have that,” says Willemsen-Dunlap.

The highlight of the training included the use of a PS in a scenario with a man recently diagnosed with diabetes. Lansing used what she learned about motivational interviewing, which includes the OARS approach – open-ended questions, affirmations, reflective listening, and summary reflections. Lansing says every aspect helped build trust, and it was especially important to recognize that the newly diagnosed man was trying to be the best grandparent by helping to regularly watch over his grandchildren.

“I know it’s a lot of hard work. Can we possibly include a brisk 10 minute walk each day with the grandkids so you don’t feel like you have to add exercise to your already busy schedule?’ Lansing said he felt heard and understood. “He seemed to be like, ‘Wow, she understands what I’m going through.'”

Willemsen-Dunlap says digitally equipped and trained CHWs will not only coordinate care with FQHCs and their provider partners, but they will help by serving as additional eyes and ears for medical providers.

“When it comes to interacting with clients and seeing what is happening in their home or living environment…they can bring it back to the provider and help them understand what might need to be adapted from ‘a specific way to maximize the effectiveness of the treatment.’

More advanced training will allow them to help individuals and families use digital tools that might be needed for education, remote monitoring, or even a virtual exam. They can also provide soothing comfort, especially at a stressful time during a pending or recent diagnosis.

“Having that neutral third party who can handle the technology and be that go-between and that calming, trusting presence is going to be really important,” Willemsen-Dunlap points out.

The next training session to become a Digitally Enabled Certified CHW begins July 11 via ICC. It includes 12 online teaching sessions (Monday and Wednesday evenings) over the first six weeks, followed by a two-week internship for participants without previous CHW experience.

Here is more information and an option to register.

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