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Michigan Works! Training Funds Help Support Aging Community Needs

Since 1973, the Alcona County Commission on Aging (ACCOA) has strived to provide its community with quality programs and services, including home delivered and congregate meals, in-home services, adult home help services, advocacy counseling, exercise programs, social and recreational programs, Volunteer Programs, and educational programs. ACCOA employs 20 employees, and serves older adults and family caregivers within the county of Alcona.

ACCOA has found it very difficult to connect seniors and their families to programs and supports they may need within the district. Since the Commission serves as the point of contact for information and assistance, service request, and service navigation, they decided to take action. They identified an opportunity with Everyday Life Community Health Workers INC to train four existing employees as certified Community Health Workers.

Community Health Workers (CHW) play a crucial role in the community they serve. Many of their goals and activities are tailored to meet the needs of the clients within the community. The role of a CHW is to promote and identify services their clients may need and anticipate future needs. CHWs must be able to understand and navigate clients to service programs within their community, as well as provide information on issues like public health, advocacy, housing, and social services. CHWs must understand how to make connections between vulnerable populations and healthcare services, facilitate social services system navigation, provide managing or transition care for vulnerable clients, stimulate social inclusion by reducing social Isolation among vulnerable populations, and educate the community about health system providers and disease prevention information.

With the help of Michigan Works! Northeast Consortium, ACCOA was able to move forward with the training thanks to an Incumbent Worker Training grant. Three staff completed the Community Health Worker training; two of the positions filled were supervisory department heads, and one position is a Community Liaison and Supports position.

Executive Director Lenny Avery states, "ACCOA's Community Health Workers are members of our team who specialize in a particular area of expertise. These workers are trusted members of our community and serve as liaison between the client needs and the services we provide. Whether it is health care services, Medicaid applications, Communication between community members and partners, or everything in between. Our CHW are the Swiss army knives of our agency. Having these trained Community Health Workers is not only a benefit ACCOA, but the community as a whole."

During the training process Lenny says they really learned to “be flexible, no matter what!”

“You have to be able to adapt to any circumstances that come your way. Community Health Workers possess a unique ability to meet people where they are. They can reach residents where they live, eat, play, work, and worship. Alcona County has over 7 Community Health Workers and 5 are at the Alcona Commission on Aging all thanks to the Incumbent Worker Program!”


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