While there’s no quick fix for making sure your community health workers are engaged with your program, you can increase the odds by taking these steps.
Beginning any new training program can be an exercise in anxiety. Testing, piloting and review are essential steps that lead to a more successful training program, but the true test of the effectiveness of a program is when your community health workers succeed on the job.
Strategies for engagement vary widely, depending on the course and who’s taking it. And there’s no one way to make sure that your participants are actively involved. However, there are a few guidelines you can follow that will help make your CHW training stick.
Ask early and often what participants think.
A survey at the end of the course is good. Asking your health workers throughout the course how the material relates to their work is even better. Learners will often forget details by the end of a course.
How: Check in with polls that ask how relevant they think information is or how long it took them to complete a module. Ask if case studies accurately reflect the clients in your community. Also create a forum designed for general thoughts, and ask your instructor to get in the habit of asking for feedback.
Get buy-in from supervisors.
Health workers’ supervisors need to be included from the beginning. A supervisor can make sure employees participate and also help answer any questions that arise in the course, and they can also make time in the schedule for learning.
How: Consider enlisting superiors as coaches for the best results. Create a related companion course on CHW management skills that supervisors are also required to follow.
If your course is skills-based, first take measurements of where staff skills are. Tell your employees why their skills are being measured. Then upon completion, measure progress against your benchmark.
How: One idea is to assess ability with one task during performance appraisals. Employees will also equate the course with an overall job requirement. If there are new screening guidelines, make sure that CHWs are relating those guidelines to clients.
There’s a reason so many coffee shops offer punch cards: rewards work. Think about what reward will motivate your participants to keep engaged. Make sure to focus on rewards rather than penalties.
How: Successful rewards we’ve seen are completion certificates, new equipment for use on the job such as blood pressure cuffs, and additional training opportunities, like more in-depth courses. End-of-course lunches for successful participants also work.
Make it relevant.
Participation will drop like a stone if a course doesn’t make sense to the people taking it. Unfortunately, many courses are too unfocused on the work community health workers do.
How: Develop courses from scratch and after carefully surveying your audience. Off-the-shelf courses can also be customized on screen, or they can also be complimented by instruction in the field.
Technology scares some people. Be prepared to make it easy to succeed in an online course.
How: Set up a demonstration before the course begins. Appoint a communal computer in an office for printing and extra help. Give a computer-literacy assessment before the course begins so you have a better idea of who will need additional help.
GET MORE E-LEARNING ADVICE FROM CHWTRAINING
Join hundreds of fellow CHW employers! Get CHWTraining’s latest updates delivered to your inbox.