Read how you, as a program manager, director or HR manager, can use to learn more about abilities of your new or existing community health worker and increase your impact.
Your health agency has to adapt fast to improve the health outcomes of your community members, and keep people out of the ER. But in order to do that, your community health workers (CHWs), promotores, or other health advocates need to be ready to act.
Make a smooth liftoff of your CHW initiative by knowing just what kinds of skills your agency’s CHWs and related staff already have. And then you can note what core competencies they’re missing so you can build a comprehensive training plan.
Once you have that information, you can organize training to fill in the gaps in their knowledge and skills.
Here are some effective methods you can use to assess your CHW team’s skills and competencies. Note that your state may have different competencies for CHW certification, so you should research local requirements.
Top 5 Ways To Assess CHW Skills and Competencies
- Test Your CHWs
- Request a Self-Assessment
- Collect Team Feedback
- Test CHWs in the Field
- Ask for Clients’ or Patients’ Feedback
1. Test Your CHWs
Probably the easiest and most straightforward way to find out what kinds of stills your CHW team already has is to test them. You can find a test online or create one of your own to assess their technical knowledge. These kinds of tests give very clear pass/fail results. However, they can be fuzzy on whether someone knows how to apply that knowledge with clients and patients.
2. Request a Self-Assessment
Asking your CHWs to prepare a self-assessment of their skills can give you a more nuanced idea of how well they can do the tasks on their job description. This method is helpful because it shows their abilities and also how they perceive their abilities.
You can structure these assessments by asking CHWs to tell you how familiar they are with key CHW skills, such as:
Rate how comfortable you feel preparing a client intake form:
- Very comfortable
- Slightly unsure
- Not at all sure
These kinds of assessments are most helpful when combined with a more objective test. Sometimes CHWs can over- or underestimate their abilities.
3. Collect Team Feedback
Team-members, especially members of a multidisciplinary healthcare team, can have a much clearer idea of the competencies of the CHW working with them. So ask for their feedback. They can anonymously present an assessment of the CHW and where they might need extra skills. Just make sure to keep it at a high level.
4. Test CHWs in the Field
The best way to train and assess core competency skills is to see how a CHW uses them in practice. You or a mentor can watch the CHW in a variety of real or role-play scenarios to see how they fare.
The benefit here is that your assessor can ask the CHW unexpected questions or try out unusual circumstances. This will let you explore situations that are much more complex than a standard test.
5. Ask for Clients’ or Patients’ Feedback
Another kind of in-the-field testing is to actually find out how the CHW is doing with clients. You can survey their clients directly and find out if there are areas for improvement. This can be a great way to learn about your CHW team, but also find out about the unique needs of your clients and how you can support them better.
Best of all, you might like to choose all of the methods above or at least a combination of them. This mixed approach can give you the truest sense of how your CHWs are performing in their jobs.