The Department of Health and Senior Services’ vision is “Healthy Missourians for Life”. Through use of community health workers connecting individuals with health and social services and community resources, Missourians will have assistance with taking steps to being healthy.
Community health workers are lay individuals who are trusted members of and/or have an unusually close understanding of the community. They may have other titles, such as patient navigator, peer counselor, or health advocate.
Community health workers connect resources, conduct outreach, provide cultural liaison, advocate for individuals and the community, and educate individuals how to take ownership of their health. Being lay individuals, community health workers do not provide direct medical care.
Building upon an established foundation, the Department of Health and Senior Services is identifying standards for core competencies and scope of practice. A Statewide Community Health Worker Advisory Committee composed of higher educational institutions, community organizations, health care systems, government entities and community health workers provides recommendations to the Department of Health and Senior Services on community health worker infrastructure issues.
Currently, Metropolitan Community College, Kansas City conducts community health worker courses. Contracts with St. Louis Community College and Ozark Technical College will expand the curriculum. Through pre- and post-surveys of enrollees and the higher educational institutions, data obtained will further enhance the development of statewide standard for core competencies. Individuals who complete a community health worker course receive a certificate of completion.
Standards will ensure community health workers have the knowledge necessary to assist individuals with overcoming barriers to achieving optimal health. Health systems can have confidence that community health workers who have taken the course have the skills and knowledge necessary to be vital members of health teams. Individuals connected with community health workers will receive necessary resources and support to take ownership of their health and to improve their health outcome.
This blog post is part of A Healthy 10.