Minnesota CHWs carry out the following roles within their scope of practice:
Role 1: Bridge the gap between communities and the health and social service systems
Role 2: Navigate the health and human services system
Role 3: Advocate for individual and community needs
Role 4: Provide Direct Services
Role 5: Build Individual and Community Capacity
Outreach worker, educator, connector, navigator, care coordinator, counselor, organizer, advocate… These are among the key roles that CHWs play, depending on the purpose of their organization, the setting for their work, and the population that they serve.
CHWs apply their unique understanding of the experience, language, and/or culture of the populations they serve in order to carry out one or more of the following:
- Providing culturally appropriate health education, information and outreach in community-based settings, such as homes, clinics, schools, shelters, local businesses, and community centers
- Bridging/culturally mediating between individuals, communities and health and human services, including actively building individual and community capacity
- Assuring that people access the coverage and services they need
- Providing direct services, such as informal counseling, social support, care coordination and health screenings
- Advocating for individual and community needs
Increasingly, CHWs are becoming members of patient-centered health teams. Their cultural understanding and deep community reach can help improve health care cultural competence, impact care planning and results, and improve patient satisfaction and self-care.
“Providers appreciate what we do because we can follow up on a lot of things, such as referrals to other community services and make sure patients receive the care and/or information they need, which ultimately contributes to the work done by our care team in helping patients to achieve a healthier lifestyle. In a short visit, it’s impossible for the physician to take care of everything; we need a care team to assure that our patients receive the highest level of care”.
CHW Mariela Adremagni-Tollin, Hennepin County Medical Center East Lake Clinic, Minneapolis