COVID-19 Peer Learning and Support for Community Health Workers

How can Community Health Workers learn from and support each other to improve resilience, address burnout, and build ways to better support CHWs and their communities in the future?

About this online peer learning series

Community Health Workers are a group of professionals who, under normal times, are generally overstretched and working with challenging populations. As the US confronts the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, these individuals deserve extra support of all kinds: emotional, informational and structural. We can learn from Community Health Worker (our peers’) insights during this time. This learning experience is intended to be a conversation. The HRSA-funded New England Public Health Training Center, with its network of almost 9000 public health professionals, is working with partners from Southern New Hampshire AHEC, Mane Mobile Health and the National Association of Community Health Workers to facilitate supportive conversations and learning among Community Health Workers on the frontlines of COVID-19.

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Part 1:
 Resiliency and Thriving in the age of COVID19 – Peer Learning and Support

How do we uncover the secret power of stress and the key to grow from resilience to thriving for ourselves and the communities we serve?

About part 1 of the series: The Resiliency to Thrive Peer Learning session can help define how each participant perceives life challenges and examine how the power of perception can enhance your resiliency factor or erode it. Resiliency can grow when one is in tune with mind and body. Raising body consciousness is a KEY for sustainable wellbeing. Now more than ever self-care has been defined as critical to our mental and physical health under the new “normal” of COVID19.

What you’ll learn

Through the peer learning process, our guided interaction and listening will allow you to:

  • Apply the tools of Resilience and Thriving through self-examination of events in personal and professional lives.
  • Evaluate the broader aspects of stress and how they can reframe stressors to strengthen their ability to flourish under challenging circumstances.
  • Integrate the role of stress and thriving across the National Wellness Institute’s six dimensions of Wellness.
  • Recognize early warning signs and utilizing the core tools of the positive stress cycle

Part 2:
 Addressing Burnout: Peer Learning & Support for CHWs

Have you found yourself exhausted, frustrated, or discouraged by your job as a community health worker? This could be the right session for you.

About part 2 of the series: Today, burnout is an all too common experience among health care professionals, and Community Health Workers are no exception. On the front lines of providing critical services to vulnerable communities in the era of coronavirus, while often dealing with the same insecurities that their patients experience, CHWs are particularly vulnerable to stress and burnout. This session will be an opportunity to learn from other CHWs and a mental health professional on how burnout impacts our day to day work and to identify concrete strategies for self-care and peer support.

What you’ll learn

Through the peer learning process, our guided interaction and listening will allow you to:

  • Assess yourself for the three main components of burnout
  • Choose one new strategy for self-care that you plan to apply to your daily routine
  • Examine the potential for burnout in your work environment using 6 key-factors
  • Investigate one new opportunity for peer support in your work environment

Part 3:
 Community Health Workers: Insights on Building a Movement for Health Equity and Social Justice during COVID-19

Will COVID provide the moment of equitable transformation in our systems? Will CHW drive the change?

About part 3 of the series: CHWs have many titles and roles. What is happening with CHWs in other parts of the country during COVID? Are emergency response structures changing because of new challenges and opportunities during the pandemic? This workshop will explore CHW experiences in Northern New England and some national data. The group will discuss systems changes involving CHWs needed to improve health.

What you’ll learn

Through the peer learning process, our guided interaction and listening will allow you to:

  • Examine themes from a national survey on CHWs and their information, resource and self-care needs in the early weeks of COVID-19
  • Explore strategies used with public and private institutions to advocate for the role of CHWs in emergency response efforts
  • Discuss how to advance an equity and social justice agenda among state and national emergency response initiatives

Part 4:
 Using the Research Lens: Thematic Analysis of the CHW Peer Learning Sessions

What have Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont Community Health Workers expressed about resiliency for themselves and their communities, preventing burnout, and needed change over the three workshops?

About part 4 of the series: Part 4 of the series will describe the research process used to identify key themes about resiliency, burnout, and CHW needs discussed in the previous three sessions. The evaluator will share the identified themes with participants and engage the CHWs in a discussion to validate and refine the themes.

What you’ll learn

Through the peer learning process, our guided interaction and listening will allow you to:

  • Describe the research methods used to collect and analyze data and validate findings from the three session
  • Describe strategies that CHWs identified to build resiliency among their clients, as well as to build resiliency and prevent burnout within the CHW workforce and needed change