Community outreach in Liberia by UNMEER

Community Engagement the Right Way with Outreach Skills

Four essential outreach skills for putting a community engagement plan into action.

After months—maybe years—of planning, research, building, and even growing a few extra gray hairs, your program is ready for your community. You’re certaioun that you’ve trained your community health team to keep people out of emergency rooms, lower their high blood pressure, control their diabetes, keep them safe from skin cancer. You’ve met all your grant objectives, you’re confident what you’ve created is destined to help, and your community is…silent.

What did you miss?

It could be outreach.

Even the best programs can fail if no one knows about them. Keeping communities in better health begins with an outreach effort. All community health worker (CHW) teams should understand what outreach is and why it helps, so it pays to train them with the right skills to spread word about your programs and services.

What is community outreach?

Community outreach and engagement means talking to local groups, using local media and social media to discuss healthy habits, or appearing at community events to do demonstrations and build linkages. Outreach is essential for connecting people to healthcare and services. It helps to delivers evidence-based information and minimizes communication gaps among providers and the public.

And you need to do it many ways, and you need to do it over and over again. Research shows that people won’t act on something until they’ve heard or seen it seven times, on average. The rule of seven is an old marketing rule that happens to still be true.

Successful outreach is definitely and art, but also a science. Skills can be learned, and many of them most CHWs already have through collaborating with other health care practitioners and working with clients.

Here are four essential outreach skills to share with your team that they can start using right now.

Build organizational skills.

Taking on an outreach project requires organization. That means your team members need to be able to control their own chaos and work well with others. It also means proficiency in capturing information, conducting research. A good base in organizational skills will form the foundation of successful outreach projects.

Tell a story—and feel free to make it personal.

Our culture is built on connecting with others in society, and the best way to do that is to listen and relate to others’ stories. Keeping hypertension under control might boil down to blood pressure readings, but it’s so much more engaging to know how and why it matters in real life. If you need help phrasing a story, the Acrobatant blog has a great article Three Ways to Tell Your Story in Healthcare Marketing.

ReThink Health also has a Public Narrative Toolkit for outreach skills that includes short videos, worksheets, meeting agendas, and coaching tips for telling stories.

When doing any kind of outreach, ask your team to think about their own experience or those of others and how it relates, because this is what sparks excitement and engagement.

Make sure the right people hear it.

Part of being organized is identifying your target audience, or the people who you need to communicate your message with. Even the most compelling story and useful program or service will fall flat if you skip this step. Spend time carefully identifying who you need to reach with your outreach project.

For example, you might target mothers with small children with a sunscreen use outreach project. What places do they visit around town? Do they use social media? Do health fairs work for your clients? Can you partner with schools or businesses? Learn your audience and support system so you can connect meaningfully.

Repeat, and repeat again.

Once is never enough. After you’ve done the research, drafted the your story, and found a target audience, deploy the outreach plan. And then do it again. People need to be reminded, because they forget, get distracted, the information isn’t relevant—whatever the reason is, hearing a message multiple times makes it click.

Outreach skills are only part of a comprehensive CHW training program that will guarantee the success of your program. Have a look at some of our skill-building training courses to think about how they fit into your initiative.

7 Benefits of a Learning Subscription for Community Health Workers

7 Benefits of a Learning Subscription for Community Health Workers

If your organization needs to improve the public’s health and well-being in your community, then you already know community health workers (CHWs) are a good solution. That’s the directive of many of the Medicare health plans and clinics that work with CHWTraining.

The problem comes to deciding how to train a brand new CHW workforce or other support workers. Many individuals want to promote health and build community capacity to ensure health equity, but they might not have the skills. That can be an issue especially if you need them to be trained quickly.

You need efficiency in your training process so you’re not reinventing the wheel every time with every community health worker training. A ready-to-go learning process is important because traditional classroom training takes time and extra funding.

What is an Online Learning Subscription?

A learning subscription lets you begin training within a few days. It’s a digital learning solution that provides 24/7 access to a complete catalog of interactive training courses and videos for anyone on your team who needs to build skills or meet training requirements. Learning subscriptions are helpful for existing and new hires because they make it easy to stay current as health recommendations are constantly changed and revised. Access to a continuous learning system like CHWTraining keeps staff connected to enhanced training or CHW certification requirements with each new update.

Ultimately, the quicker your organization can hire and train CHWs, the faster they can do the tasks they’re are so good at: providing high-impact prevention, early intervention for at-risk individuals, navigation support, and linkage to care. Uncoordinated training efforts can put your health outreach projects at stake.

Take a look at these 7 benefits of a learning subscription for CHWs.

1. 24/7 access, all year long

Most learning subscriptions, including CHWTraining, provide year-round access, 24 hours per day. This means that your staff can access training when it’s convenient for them: between site visits or client calls or on weekends. It also means that you can train new people whenever you hire them any time within a 12-month period—or longer with a multi-year subscription.

2. Reduce administration

Many CHW programs are grant-funded, and they require careful documentation of who took which course and if they received a certificate of completion and when. This kind of administration is much easier if the training program is outsourced. Spending for grant requirements is clearly documented, and the need for expense reimbursements is greatly reduced.

3. Fulfill competency requirements

Many states follow CHW core competency requirements, such as those from the Community Health Worker Core Consensus Project (C3), and your team members might be required to meet them for employment. A CHW learning subscription tracks the common requirements nationally so you don’t have to.

4. Dedicated technical support

Most of the organizations we work with realize their training needs but lack the staff to do it. Many programs run on a slim team—sometimes of just one or two people. If they’re in charge of their regular job duties, the last thing they have the time or skills to do is support participants who need technical support. Having a technical support team—that speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin and other languages—can let in-house administrators focus on their day-to-day duties.

5. Keep knowledge fresh

Health recommendations change constantly, as do health and social service systems, grant objectives and population health concerns. CHW teams need to be informed of these changes when they happen. A training subscription means they have access to updates throughout the year—whenever they happen. You can make sure your team remembers what they learned by requiring them to refresh their training every year.

6. No need to reinvent the wheel

Many training programs, such as sexual harassment or assessment skills, don’t vary much from year to year or from class to class. Moving training online means getting away from repeating the same training year after year and to each employee group. This has tremendous cost savings.

7. Simplify reporting

Reports that are generated on the fly can help create a personal experience and give administrators an easy view of how staff are doing. Tracking progress is as easy as clicking a button, which lets you quickly identify a learner’s status and gain insight into their training journey.

These are just some of the many ways that a CHW learning subscription can greatly improve the quality of your workforce and training efforts.

Curious about how you can bring more efficiency into your community health worker training program? Contact CHWTraining to talk about your needs today.