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Intercultural mediator in health-care services


Community health workers are professionals who are members of the community they work, and form part of a health human resources team. Their mission is to bridge between the health care and information services and the community in order to improve the flow of information, initiatives and resources between the two parties. Similarly, they are responsible for leading health promotion activities carried out separately by each of them, or jointly.


Community health workers' tasks revolve around three main core areas: health care, the sociocultural area and the community.

Health care.
  • Perform both group and individual actions aiming to heighten the amount of health-care information and reduce the vulnerability of individuals and community to health-care problems.
  • Help to explain results, treatments or prescriptions made by the medical team to help improve the patient's response.
  • Offer patients the support resources provided by the local services, as well as by the community itself (associations, administrative and social welfare resources, etc.).
  • Explain the diagnostic and administrative process employed by the health-care services, in order to reduce the possible negative impact that medical practices or administrative processes could have on patients who lack previous experience of health care.
  • Promote and perform health-care information and aptitude development initiatives amongst groups or individuals, using belonging to the health-care services and the community (associations, houses, etc.).
  • Spread the public health-care resources available amongst the community, as well as awareness of how these work (how to apply for a health card, etc.); identify particular features of each community in relation to the issue of health care in order to advocate specific actions, promote new ones and facilitate communities' access to resources and preventive measures.
Sociocultural area.
  • Perform tasks aiming to solve difficulties that arise owing to the cultural differences between patients and health-care staff. The aim of these activities should be to improve understanding between the health-care centre and the community.
  • Translate, interpret and act as a cultural mediator on both and individual and a collective level; responsible for training health-care staff on issues related to immigration or their culture; analyse the structure of and internal processes in the service, as well as the health-care programmes and materials, in order to identify aspects that may cause difficulties for the community.
  • Advise, inform and guide the immigrant population in health-care matters.
    Provide knowledge of the environment and the operation of the health-care system.
    Facilitate access and use of existing socio-sanitary resources: perform an inventory and identify resources, keep information updated, and adapt the service portfolio to needs and demands, favouring accessibility to ordinary public health-care services, and helping the management and obtaining of the corresponding health-care documentation.
  • Propose joint solutions with the team and information initiatives on social, work-related and legal-administrative issues, as well as resources that may prove helpful in these areas.
The community.
  • Involve actions which aim to bolster the social fabric of communities in order to reduce contextual factors which heighten people or communities' vulnerability. In this regard, the tasks they perform include improving the channels of information for communities in order to facilitate contact between the health-care services and people (present programmes, raising awareness, creating forums, etc.).
  • Provide support and lead community initiatives to boost the social fabric of communities, thereby creating more stable care networks with better links with the health-care services.
  • Foster contact between the different networks offering support for the population (social, health-care and educational services, etc.) in order to improve the detection and referral of possible health-care issues.
  • Detect, mobilise and coordinate public service and community resources in order to address their needs.
  • In the case of immigration population, provide practical information about the network of resources which cover the urgent needs when they have recently arrived at the host society. Work in active collaboration with other associations and entities.
  • Include health-care on the agenda of community organizations in order to foster health-care promotion actions carried out by these groups, and facilitate communities' participation in debates on health-care needs, as well as in the design of policies and strategies aimed to address these needs.

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