Community health representatives work with health-care teams to improve and maintain the spiritual, physical, intellectual, social and emotional well-being of individuals, families and their communities. Their key responsibilities include:
- client care and screening
- health promotion, health protection and injury and disease prevention
- environmental health protection
- community advocacy and cultural liaison
- program planning and facilitation of health education programs
- patient navigation.
Client care and screening includes:
- conducting home visits to build relationships with community members and provide information and support
- monitoring clients, families and community health concerns
- recording client health histories and monitoring vital signs (for example, blood pressure, glucometer readings) as necessary
- participating in baby and school screening activities, such as taking measurements of height and weight
- completing client assessments to better understand the client’s health concerns, social support networks and barriers to accessing health care
- referring clients to other health professionals as necessary.
Health promotion, health protection and injury and disease prevention includes:
- helping to organize health education workshops
- designing or helping to create culturally appropriate education resources
- planning and implementing health activities in schools, such as fire safety, personal hygiene and school bus safety
- assisting with health promotion and injury prevention services, such as prenatal classes, Elders' luncheons or health fairs.
Environmental health protection includes:
- working with the health team to prevent and control the spread of communicable diseases, for example, by helping to promote immunization and manage outbreaks
- participating in the investigation of communicable disease outbreaks and providing information, screening and followup
- working with Health Canada representatives in managing and reporting environmental health issues affecting the community, including food handling, water quality and waste disposal
- participating in housing inspections, emergency preparedness and disaster planning, and planning and monitoring of special events (for example, pow wows, rodeos) for health-related issues.
Community advocacy and cultural liaison includes:
- referring clients and families to appropriate resources and services, and helping them overcome any access barriers
- recommending improvements regarding the delivery of health care
- acting as a liaison and collaborating with community leaders, agencies and service providers
- translating or describing routine medical processes and procedures for clients, or interpreting cultural practices or beliefs for health-care professionals.
Program planning and facilitation of health education programs includes:
- conducting community needs assessments
- helping in the development and implementation of community health work plans
- assisting with the co-ordination or facilitation of community health initiatives.
Patient navigation includes:
- guiding clients through the health-care system
- helping clients access the appropriate level of care and achieve or maintain a state of optimal heath.
Community health representatives are also responsible for documenting their work. For example, they record observations in client health records, complete water bacterial reports, prepare monthly reports and participate in developing community health work plans.
In isolated communities, community health representatives provide first aid and work closely with health-care professionals during emergency situations.
In urban settings, community health representatives generally do not provide services that are already provided by other health-care professionals, such as assessing or screening clients or, monitoring water safety.