Community Health Care is a health service that focuses on the maintenance, protection, and improvement of the health status of individuals in the community such as children, elderly people, pregnant women, and victims of violence, injured people, and those living with chronic conditions.
Health care services are provided to larger populations or community groups as an alternative to focusing on a single individual.
What are community health services?
Community health care caters to a range of services such as adult community nursing, therapy services, preventive services such as sexual health and smoking cessation clinics, safe health measures, health visiting, child health services, dentistry, prison healthcare, and school nursing. They ensure that health care services reach and benefit mostly the poor who can’t afford resources to seek health care and those that aren’t insured.
How does community health care work?
For good health, one needs to access healthcare services, yet several patients face challenges to do so. Some patients live in rural areas that are quite far which makes them more likely to struggle to access medical services. In other cases, there’s a shortage of clinicians even when the hospitals are available. Transportation barriers also make it difficult for a patient to access a provider and schedule an appointment. Patients that aren’t able to drive even have it more difficult. Then there’s limited education about health care sites.
With community health care, patients can confidently access health care services around their community.
Collaborations between the department of health which usually provides funding, and local health care systems such as pharmacies, nursing homes, and hospices, and home care agencies in both urban and rural areas are what make community health care possible.
The COVID-19 outbreak has shown countries that with the right funding and support from the government, health care can be delivered successfully to patients. So with these funds handed out, it’s the role of health care providers to develop interventions that work towards addressing common health problems faced by these vulnerable groups especially if they can’t afford medical services or are very ill.
One of the interventions involves setting up a network of trained community health workers who can reach out to the people in the community or even provide the services at the health care centers. They are trained to serve the community by:
- Educating the public about illnesses such as their risk for developing heart disease diabetes, high blood pressure among others.
- Assisting community members to get appropriate screenings and referrals for their health.
- Conducting meetings and holding workshops to learn about the various ways to promote better health and prevent diseases.
- Tracking patient progress to make sure they meet their health goals.
- Educating community members about better living lifestyles i.e. the right meals to eat, and the importance of physical activities.
- Evaluating the needs of the community.
These health workers are concerned about the entire community’s health as opposed to only worrying about a single individual. They are different from the usual nurses we find in hospitals. Their job requires them to operate on a large scale which involves visiting neighborhoods, small towns, cities, schools, community clinics, and even in people’s own homes.
Importance of community health care
Large populations of patients living in rural areas struggle to access proper health care and treatments when they need them. Pregnant women, the elderly, and those suffering from chronic illnesses can greatly benefit from the community health care system.
Identification of community needs
Through interactions with individuals from the public, health care workers can identify what is needed by the people. Here, also the major risk factors are identified through planned measures such as profiling (collecting relevant information from the population) and involving other agencies.
Clinical experiences and real-life examples can be used to illustrate the needs of people in the community. With this information, public health workers can persuade the right people i.e. the public and elected officials to offer medical assistance. They may advocate for increased access to immunization, provision of medicine, education for the vulnerable, and the likes these steps are usually facilitated through writing proposals that are sent to sponsors.
Addressing imbalances in access to healthcare
For most rural communities, the largest population is often unable to access healthcare services. As we mentioned before, sometimes the hospitals aren’t enough or the doctors themselves are few. Populations such as these are at high risk of exposure to extreme poverty, drug abuse, and other diseases capable of causing death. If a proper healthcare system is put in place, considering the needs of that particular community, then there can be a great improvement in the level of health care services received.
Cut back on costs to the healthcare
Community health care is a key part of policy reforms aimed at reducing how much the public spends on healthcare. Public health facilities work within a model of patient-centered treatment which eliminates cases of patients making expensive visits to medical facilities and hospitalization
Promotion of life changes
Through the provision of health education, the public’s attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs are changed. Patients learn about the importance of medical treatment and prevention measures that promotes safer lifestyles. Most community health workers organize educative programs and pieces of training directed towards educating the community about health-related issues.
Where can you find community health care services?
Community health care services are offered in most hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and also in:
- Health care agencies
- Community health centers
- Public health departments
- Correctional facilities
- Religious institutions
- Schools and businesses.
To conclude this, community health care is a union between health care services economics and social responsibilities. Individuals staying in the same neighborhood, school, or workplace are more or less likely to share the same health risks. The collective efforts of individuals, organizations, and health facilities are what will promote life changes and solve health problems. Patients previously facing challenges can now have access to healthcare information, improve on the quality of life, cut back on healthcare costs and generally reduce visits to medical facilities.