What is a MCHW?

[From the MCHW 2003 Hui Report]

The Role of a MCHW

MCHW have a history stemming back to the early 1900’s with Maori Health Inspectors. Now MCHW make up about 44% of the Maori health workforce. While some services marginalize MCHW, they are seen by the community as leaders, “health friends”, health facilitators, service integrators and health advocates. MCHW are selected by the community and are insiders rather than outsiders, with their key attributes being community knowledge and authority based on community acceptance, rather than professional expertise.

While some of the points raised included “some of the jobs we do” (e.g. a taxi driver) the main themes of what the role of a MCHW are and what makes a MCHW unique, that came through were:

One: A role model

  1. Empowering the community
  2. Teaching life-skills—not just by word, but also by deed.
  3. Non-judgemental
  4. Ensuring the right person is looking after the whanau
  5. Empathy, friendship and humility
  6. A leader

Two: Maoritanga

  1. Te reo and tikanga
  2. Whanaungatanga
  3. Treaty of Waitangi
  4. Maori models of care (including: awhi; humour; kotahitanga; waiata; holistic; rongoa; karakia)

Three: Advocate

  1. First point of contact
  2. “go-between” client and health professional
  3. Trusted within the community
  4. Uses networks to bring about best outcome for client
  5. Communication and consultation skills

Four: Health specific

  1. e.g. diabetes, drug and other drug, tamariki, cervical
  2. Ability to work across disciplines
  3. Health education
  4. Medical records
  5. Needs assessment skills
  6. First-aid

Five: Administration

  1. Time management
  2. Computer and technology
  3. Report writing skills
  4. Business skills
  5. Privacy issues
  6. Knowledge of the system
  7. Research

Traditionally, experience is key to the success of a MCHW, although education also plays a role. A MCHW also needs administration, computer and report writing skills.

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