Innovating home visiting to mothers and infants by community health workers: an action-oriented guide
Abstract Objectives: to describe the process of development and the structure of an action-oriented guide for home visits (HVs) to mothers and infants by Community Health Workers (CHWs). The guide was adopted in a controlled trial aimed at assessing its efficacy in improving CHWs' performance. Methods: steps to develop the guide included: 1) Review of international and national standards and recommendations for community interventions for maternal and child care; 2) Assessment of perceived needs of CHWs and other Family Health professionals regarding prenatal and postnatal HVs; 3) Identification of elements to construct the guide. Results: the Guide provides action-oriented instructions for 10 HVs during prenatal and postnatal period up to 9 months instead of the 18 HVs currently recommended by Ministry of Health. Specific tasks for each visit including assessment and promotion of early child development (ECD) and an action-oriented risk classification are introduced as standardized operational practice. Conclusions: the described approach to guide construction allows adapting the guide contents to the health system context in Brazil and other countries interested in improving quality of HVs by CHWs. The guide, by identifying tasks to be carried out and actions to be taken at each HV, provides an innovative approach and represents a requisite for a more efficient and effective use of their time.