When people are informed and have access to resources that can help them thrive, it also creates opportunities for them to gain prosperity. However, when social or economic conditions exist, individuals often experience inequities in healthcare, education, income, housing and so much more when compared to others. Throughout Bastrop County, one nonprofit organization, Bastrop County Cares, is addressing the unique concerns of specific groups of residents and bringing together collaborative partnerships that can provide community solutions. Bastrop County Cares has many initiatives which are all supported by ensuring that community ambassadors and CHWs are embedded in underserved areas within the county.
“At the Senior Expo, I was talking to a woman in her 50s. After telling her what we do, she shared that she had been out of work since COVID, and she has been really worried and stressed about finding a good-paying job,” said CHW Stephanie Anderson.
“I told her that as CHWs, we help connect people to resources. I told her about the Smithville Workforce Training Center and how it can help her get a certification, which would help her find a job that offers benefits and pays a living wage.”
“She decided right then she would enroll. She was so joyful and relieved to have found hope for her future. I think there are a lot of people out there like her, and we can do so much good to connect people to resources so they can get back on their feet.”
Stephanie’s story is just one of many like it where members of our community are finding hope for prosperity. Stephanie is a Community Health Worker connected to the Bastrop County Accountable Communities for Health (BCACH) Initiative. Creating prosperity through economic stability is the BCACH Initiative that has been identified to address this specific social determinant of health.
The Social Determinants of Health (SDOH)
Social determinants of health (SDOH) are the nonmedical factors that influence health outcomes. They are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life. These forces and systems include economic policies and systems, development agendas, social norms, social policies, racism, climate change, and political systems. There are five key areas of SDOH: healthcare access and quality, education access and quality, social and community context, economic stability, and neighborhood and built environment. When social, environmental, economic, and structural factors exist in a community, many of them are nonmedical factors that will influence health outcomes. Such outcomes impact communities and result in health inequities.
Disparities exist throughout Bastrop County in the accessibility of resources to help people thrive and be successful. One of the biggest SDOH is income. Many residents can’t afford medications, nutritious foods, and good housing, all of which can eventually affect their health.
Often people are unable to see the connection between having a job that pays a living wage and being healthy. Data from the Healthy 2030 Report findings acknowledge economic stability as an SDOH and report that people with steady employment are less likely to live in poverty and more likely to be healthy. Because many people lack the credentials to qualify for such jobs, their access to long-term living wages is limited, thus affecting their overall health.
TRAINING = ACCESS TO HIGHER WAGE JOBS = BETTER HEALTH
Access to one resource can have a trickle-down effect that benefits both the individual and their family. For instance, someone who completes a training program through the Smithville Workforce and Training Center can access higher-pay jobs that provide health benefits and more consistent work hours. This allows the individual and their family to have regular visits with a doctor, which helps prevent disease.
It gives them more money to find stable, safe housing, to purchase better foods for their family’s health, and it allows families to spend more time together when one (or both) parents/caregivers aren’t working jobs that keep them away from home frequently.
Eating healthy foods is proven to help children focus better and be more engaged at school.
All these incredible benefits can stem from a single interaction with a CHW.
Bastrop County Cares CHWS are lay members of the community who have completed the CHW Certification program through Texas Tech University Health Science Center School of Nursing and are certified by the State of Texas. The BCACH CHWs are funded by the Episcopal Health Foundation and are partnered with many local agencies.
BCACH COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKERS
BCACH CHWs are trusted individuals in their communities who serve as the bridge between community and local organizations (think resources) by removing cultural gaps and language barriers and staying connected with individuals throughout the process of finding the right resources to help them succeed. CHWs build relationships that develop trust in underprivileged, marginalized communities where resources are limited or there’s a lack of access to quality healthcare.
BCACH CHWs are uniquely positioned to provide culturally appropriate and accessible care to marginalized communities. CHWs follow up with the people they engage with to ensure they get access to the resources they need, determine if they need additional resources, and stay connected to learn about future needs.
When everyone in Bastrop County feels connected, change happens. Neighbors help neighbors, families grow stronger, and individuals become healthier. Bastrop County becomes a better place for all.
Our Community Health Workers are playing a pivotal role in making a difference in a time when many families and individuals are in need of help.“Oprah said ‘you get a car and you get a car and you get a car.’ I say ‘You get to help and you get to help and you get to help.’ We need everyone to invest in the community and get involved to support the work of developing economic stability for everyone in Bastrop County.” Dr. Patricia A. Alford, Director of the Bastrop County Accountable Communities for Health Initiative.
You can learn more about the Bastrop County Accountable Community for Health Initiative at bastropcares.org/bcach
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Pamela is an active member of her community and is always quick to volunteer to help others. For 36 years, she’s dreamt of earning her GED, and thanks to the Smithville Workforce Training Center, that dream is finally becoming a reality.