Community health worker

Community health workers (CHW) are members of a community who are chosen by community members or organizations to provide basic health and medical care to their community capable of providing preventive, promotional and rehabilitation care to these communities. Source: Wikipedia

If you care about your community and have a real desire to help others, then this may be a career path for you. Going the health worker route may open doors for you to follow a career as a pharmacist assistant, care giver, community health worker and may ultimately encourage you to follow the nursing path with some extra studies. More information on Community Health Workers can be found on the Department of Health’s KZN website.

There are different career paths you can take…

What can I become?

What is an auxiliary health worker?.
The position of an auxiliary health worker was created to meet the chronic shortage of skilled health workers. Auxiliary health workers serve the community on a voluntary basis or can work for large hospitals or clinics. An auxiliary health worker is taught basic patient-care skills such as simple massage, dispensing non-prescription medicines and giving nutritional advice. They may provide assistance to physiotherapists, occupational therapists and other medical professionals.

National Certificate – Community Health Work (SAQA)
This Qualification is for any individual who is, or wishes to be, involved in Ancillary Health Care services. A learner who has achieved this qualification will integrate a range of basic awareness and competences to perform the roles of health promoter, assistant or health provider and assist the health networker within a community development context.

The Qualification will facilitate access to and mobility and progression within education and training for learners who were previously disadvantaged or who were unable to complete their schooling and were therefore denied access to Further Education and Training. It will also assist those who have worked in this field for many years, but have no formal recognition of knowledge and skills that they have acquired non-formally but would like to achieve this recognition through the process of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) and/or formal study.

Learners who complete this Qualification will have better self and social awareness and will possess a wider range of skills to better understand and function in the ancillary health care field in various community contexts. Learners successfully completing this Qualification will provide a service that will assist communities to better manage their own health and wellness. They will have the skills to support team members and assist in the provision of support services within a multi-disciplinary health care team. Practitioners will generally carry out their roles within the context of the client’s home, a community care centre and/or the broader community.

Learners successfully completing this Qualification will be capable of:

  • Communicating in a variety of ways by assisting in the provision and implementation of primary health care within a community.
  • Creating awareness on critical health care issues within a community.
  • Performing health care activities.
  • Managing self-development and implementing fundamental administrative, physical and life skills to ensure ongoing well-being and work productivity.

Ancillary Health Care Worker
Liaises with patients, clients, visitors to hospitals and staff at health clinics, and works as a team member to arrange, coordinate and provide health care delivery in community health clinics.
You have different options for gaining access to the Ancillary Health Care Worker occupation. There are a number of Certificates in Community Health Work and Ancillary Health Care offered at NFQ Levels 1 to 4.

  • To access the General Education and Training Certificate (GETC) in Ancillary Health Care requires competency in numeracy and literacy at Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) Level 3 (pathway one).
  • To access the National Certificate (NC) in Community Health Work NQF Level 2 requires a NQF Level 1/ABET Level 4 qualification (pathway two).
  • To access the National Certificate (NC) in Community Health Work NQF Level 3 requires a NQF Level 2 qualification (pathway three).
  • To access the Further Education and Training Certificate (FETC) in Community Health Work NQF Level 4 requires a NQF Level 3 qualification (pathway four).

The FETC in Community Health Work NQF Level 4 qualifies you to work as a Community Health Worker (CHW), while the NC in Community Health Work at NQF Level 2 and Level 3 and the GETC in Ancillary Health Care at NQF Level 1 all provide access to the Home Based Care Worker (HBC) occupation.

You can also become a Home Based Care Worker (HBC) by doing some of the short courses that are offered by NGO employers (pathway five). These courses are generally at NQF Level 2 with the result that you need an NQF Level 1/ABET Level 4 qualification to enter this pathway.

Who are community health workers and what do they do?
A Community Health Workers (CHW) can assume a wide variety of roles in healthcare. Just as surgical task shifting provides low cost yet effective surgical care in the absence of surgeons, community health workers help the poor overcome barriers to accessing effective healthcare in the absence of physicians and nurses. Anybody can be trained as community health workers due to the versatility of this profession. For example, even patients themselves are often trained as community health educators in order to educate their peers regarding healthcare issues.  In developing countries, CHWs can contribute to increased access to the formal healthcare system or improved patient adherence to treatment regimens, among numerous other roles.

The value of the community health worker in the SA health care system
The community health worker (CHW) plays a valuable role in promoting both health care and social support in the communities in which they work, and indirectly in the communities in which they live. A master’s research study was completed on traumatic experiences of CHWs – at work and home – and a paper (or two) will be written about the trauma exposure for this cadre of worker. Through the research experience other matters related to the role of the CHW and the Primary Health Care (PHC) Re-engineering Model were also talked about and considered important to report on as this work context supported or challenged how they responded to work and trauma experiences.

Where can I learn?

Frail care
Learn to assist some of the most vulnerable members of our community. Duration: 13 weeks. Course fee R500.

Mpiloroyal – College of Health Education
Mpilo Royal™ College of Health Education is a Higher Education Institution specializing in Faculty of Health and Science that was established in 2006 under Private Further Education and Training act of 2006 by law in South Africa. it is evolving in the South African context due to previous political dispensation which did not provide democratic and discriminatory millieu for many South African citizens. MRCHE’s intention is to provide and promote education in Health sector to previously and currently disadvantaged communities that is to initiate, develop and uplifting life skills in local and rural communities which were affected by legacy of that era which is still existing even today especially in terms of commonly held notion regarding the superiority of exclusive education and usefulness of special education. Courses include community health care, pharmacist assistance and health promotion officer.

GEM health care workers training
GEM Health Care Workers Training is an accredited institute offering affordable nursing education to school leavers and individuals struggling to find formal employment. Based in Johannesburg’s CBD, the institute is strategically located to allow for ease of access for people coming from the different townships around Gauteng.

St John
St John offers a wide variety of accredited and non-accredited first aid courses

 

Health Science Academy
Health Science Academy (HSA) is an accredited provider of education and training in the South African healthcare sector and is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Foundation for Professional Development (FPD). Health Science Academy has extensive experience in the private training and education market. The main focus is adult education and training in the healthcare sector. Training is offered in the form of extensive and short training courses, continuing professional development programmes, distance learning and training for qualifications including learnerships.

SA Red Cross
Red Cross are the founder members of First Aid Training and have provided training in Health and Care for over 100 years. Our training courses are available to the public. Proceeds from Training are used in marginalized communities affected and infected by the HIV and AIDS pandemic.

Nido Nursing – health care assistant course
The uniqueness of Nido’s practical training is the experience in private practical facilities. Nido’s training programme is recognized and approved. NIDO training programme is recognized in the Health Care Industry as the best quality Health Care Worker training, and was designed by nursing divisions of Universities.

Working as a community health worker
This course is designed to introduce the learner to the world of the Community Health Worker (CHW). Since health care in South Africa impacts a broad range of contexts and systems, some guidance in the specifics of health in the community will enable students to better understand the role CHWs play. The course will take learners through the basics of this specific role by looking at definitions, principles, skills and practical techniques. This course is a must for anyone who wants to become better acquainted with the concept of community health and how CHWs can impact their communities.

Associations and Organisations

We suggest you first have a look at the listings found on AssociationFinder.

Public Health Association of South Africa (PHASA)
The Public Health Association of South Africa wants to build an association of those involved in health and health-related activities to promote greater equity in health in South Africa. PHASA advocates equitable access to the basic conditions necessary to achieve health for all South African as well as equitable access to effective health care. PHASA will work with other public health associations and related organisations and advocate on national and international issues that impact on the conditions for a healthy society.

Confederation of Complementary Health Association of SA (COCHASA)
The Confederation of Complementary Health Associations of South Africa was established in November 1992 by a group of twelve associations in order to:

  • Represent the interests and serve the needs of all complementary health associations that promote health and wellness in a non-therapeutic manner
  • Promote a wider understanding of complementary approaches to the public
  • Develop positive relationships with the government health system, other health professionals, and the public.

What will I get paid?

Salaries vary, but the following websites may give you an idea of what to expect.

Community Health Worker Salary (South Africa)
The average salary for a Community Health Worker is R30,383 per year. Most people with this job move on to other positions after 10 years in this career.

Care worker salaries in SA
Salary estimated from 850 employees, users, and past and present job advertisements on Indeed in the past 12 months. Last updated: 23 May 2017. Average salary R9205 per month.