Building the capacity of community health workers to support health and social care for dependent older people in Latin America: a pilot study in Fortaleza, Brazil

João Bastos Freire Neto, Gerídice Lorna Andrade de Moraes, Janaína de Souza Aredes, Karla Cristina Giacomin, Luciane Ponte de Melo, Lucas Sempe, Peter Lloyd-Sherlock*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Brazil is seeing rapid population ageing, which is leading to new demands on primary health care services. There is a need to develop and assess the effectiveness of new interventions to build the capacity of staff, including community health workers, to meet the needs of groups such as care-dependent older people and their care-givers. This study examines the feasibility of a small training intervention piloted in the Brazilian city of Fortaleza. 

Methods: The study evaluated participants’ own assessments of key knowledge and skills related to the needs of care-dependent older people, both before and after the training intervention. It also assessed their capacity to implement a simple screening tool of geriatric risk factors. 

Results: The participant self-assessments indicate significant improvements in their perceived knowledge and capacity in responding to the health needs of care-dependent older people. Additionally, participants were able to successfully conduct the home visits and screening for risk factors. 

Conclusions: The study demonstrates the feasibility of developing interventions to enhance the capacity of community health workers to meet the needs of dependent older people in countries like Brazil. The evidence of effectiveness, though limited and subjective, provides justification for a larger, formally evaluated intervention. The experience of Fortaleza provides valuable lessons for other cities and countries in the region which are facing similar challenges.

Original languageEnglish
Article number526
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes

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