Community Health Worker
CARE Plus includes the use of a community health worker to build relationships with mothers and caregivers of babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome. These mothers and caregivers often experience a gap in care when making the transition to life with a new baby. It can be especially difficult for those recovering from opioid addiction to continue their recovery process while learning to take care of a newborn. The community health worker can help ease that transition by providing support for the mother and caregivers.
The community health worker’s goals include reducing behaviors that contribute to infant mortality, such as helping mothers or caregivers recover from drug addiction, quit smoking, take care of their mental health, learn safe sleep practices and more. They act as a coach and support system to encourage healthy behaviors and provide resources to mothers and caregivers recovering from opioid addiction who choose to participate in the CARE Plus program.
Nurses and social workers will tell a new mother about the CARE Plus program while she and her baby are still in the hospital and ask if she is interested in meeting with one of the community health workers. If she is, a community health worker will meet her in the hospital and help her learn to care for her baby.
When the mother and baby are ready to go home, the community health worker will then ask if the mother or other caregivers would like to continue meeting. The community health worker spends time in the community and is there to support the family and connect them to any resources they need—from getting a bus pass to finding fresh fruits and vegetables or health care providers.
The community health workers are not therapists or doctors. Instead, they are trained to build relationships with women and caregivers and connect them to resources that already exist that can help them care for themselves and their babies.
The Mobile Health, or M Health, platform is an SMS messaging system to help send health tips or resources directly to a caregiver’s cell phone. Mothers, fathers and other caregivers in the baby’s life can all sign up, if they choose. The messages will be catered to their specific situation and timeline of pregnancy and the first year of a baby’s life. Patients can also download the We Care app to find zip code specific resources, like where to find clothing or food. The free app is available for anyone to download on a mobile device.