Most of us are familiar with the “Affordable Care Act.” It’s been called many different things over the years, some positive-some not so positive. The point of this Act is pretty straight-forward though : more people need health coverage, and more people need better health coverage. I’ve been lucky this semester to both be in the Health Policy course and have a health-related research component to my field placement at United Way.
One of the aspects of the ACA that we’ve learned about in the Health Policy course are the mandatory needs assessments that health providers are being asked to conduct in their communities. As Social Workers, we all know the importance of needs assessments. After all, we don’t want to be providing the wrong services, do we? I’ve had the honor of seeing this in action through United Way’s involvement with the Wake Count Community Health Assessment.
In Wake County, health providers have decided to collaborate and come together to conduct one needs assessment that will provide direction for each of the agencies/hospitals/etc. The UNC Gillings Institute for Public Health has been contracted to conduct this survey, and I have been able to attend some meetings and then participate in the data collection efforts. They have created a 60-question survey that volunteers take door-to-door in randomly selected census tracts in Wake County. Volunteers conduct these surveys in-person with residents to learn about everything from opinions of services to personal health concerns.
Our response rate has been less than ideal, but the opportunity to talk to people about what concerns them in their community has been eye-opening. As a macro-practitioner, I strongly believe in sitting down to talk to people about what needs to change in the community and I have loved the opportunity to get to do this! People have seemed relieved that there are people out there who genuinely care about what they think and want to do something to better their community’s general health.
Wake County’s Community Health Assessment Analysis and Results will be posted on the Wake Gov website in July of 2013. Check it out if you’re interested in seeing what strengths and areas for improvement have been identified in Wake County!