UP COPC Research Unit - Background

UP COPC Research Unit - Established October 2015

The UP Department of Family Medicine has developed the UP COPC Research Unit as part of the Community Oriented Primary Care project (COPC). In the UP COPC Research Unit, a range of research projects are done. All the research projects form part of the development and implementation of COPC through the Ward Based Outreach Teams (WBOTs). 

All research work implemented as part of the UP COPC Research Unit is conducted under the approval of the UP Health Sciences Research Ethics Committee. As projects are added to the process, addenda to the research protocol are approved.

To be the leading Community Oriented Primary Care (COPC) research, learning and service innovators.

Mission (Purpose): 
The mission of the UP COPC Research Unit is to explore and innovate the practices and processes of doing information and communication technology (ICT) enabled community oriented primary care. The research activities within the unit will focus on innovative and sustainable contributions to reengineering primary health care in order to change health outcomes for ordinary people in a meaningful way and to significantly contribute to health care capacity development within and beyond the COPC project sites.
Statement of Aims (Aims and Objectives):
The aim is to create a multi-disciplinary inter-professional research, learning and service collaboration in order to explore and develop:
1. COPC as a concept and an approach
2. The social and economic implications of COPC as an implementation model
3. A capability approach to workplace learning 
4. The implementation and impact of COPC 
5. The role of ICT in COPC

These activities generate scientific publications, resource materials and policy documents to support academic learning, service delivery, policy making and public health literacy.

Education & Research Platform to support Primary Health Care:
The COPC research environment is an academic platform that has been developed to support the national government’s re-engineering of primary health care initiative. Health and social care is always concrete and specific to particular contexts. Historically, hospitals and clinics provide an institutional academic platform for doctor, clinical associate and nursing education, training and research. Similarly we propose that community based health care provides the academic platform for service  providers from community health workers through the multiple layers of health care professionals.

Like its institution-based counterpart, a COPC academic platform built on community health  teams will provide the scaffolding that is needed for service providers to deliver the best possible primary health care based on the best possible education and research.


Current Research projects: 

  1. Opioid Substitution Therapy and Substance Abuse Harm Reduction through COPC in the City of Tshwane :A Holistic and Community Based Primary Health Care Intervention Strategy.(City of Tshwane -2016-2019)
  2. Oriented Primary through Ward Based outreach teams in the City of Tshwane: The aim of this initiative is to investigate COPC as a multi-disciplinary, multi-sector service model of integrated district health care. It is supported by the City of Tshwane.
  3. Community Health Education and Research Initiative – CHERI: This is a project funded through the NRF to support the development of research capacity in community health education.
  4. NRASD Training the Trainers – developing the role of faith based organisations in COPC: This is a project developed with the National Religious Association for Social Development to develop capacity to implement a basic COPC health literacy programme for religious communities in local congregations.
  5. Real-time food security information for evidence-based policy making in metropolitan areas in South Africa. This is a project funded through the NRF Centre of Excellence with the IFNUW, Architecture, Human Nutrition and Geography.
  6. A Multidisciplinary Investigation of Authentic Learning in the BCMP Curriculum. This project investigates the BCMP programme in terms of the curriculum, approaches to learning and effects on clinical associate learning.
  7. The Tshwane “Khulelwe” Project. An integrated ICT-enabled community-oriented antenatal care study with Doppler ultrasound (Umbiflow) assessment. This is a project funded by MRC and CSIR done in collaboration between CSIR, MRC Unit for Maternal and Neonatal Health and Family Medicine. This will research the use of Umbiflow in large scale screening as well as an integrated care model. 
  8. HearScreen to detect hearing impairment. A project to to support hearing health by offering hearing services to people in the communities through ward based outreach teams as well as at primary health care clinics. The project is led by Professor De Wet Swanepoel (UP Department of Speech, Language Pathology and Audiology).
  9. Early detection of developmental problems in children. This is a PhD project  to test screening tools for early detection of developmental problems in children under the age of 1 year.
  10. Inter-professional home visit care in WBOTs. Professionals from a range of disciplines are involved in developing interventions at school and home level through the WBOT’s. Clinical psychology, sports and movement science, architecture, physiotherapy, speech and audiology, occupational therapy, theology and others are involved. These disciplines develop a collaborative manner of working with families and communities.
  11. Implementation of an Integrated Chronic Disease Management programme in a health centre and WBOTs. This project  is designed to investigate chronic care integration between the home and clinic in Mamelodi East, at Stanza Bopape CHC and surrounding WBOT's.  It follows the ICSM (Integrated Chronic Service Management) process of National DOH as facilitated by FPD in Tshwane using Aitahealthtm integrated with Synaxon at the CHC through the CSIR Data Integration Bus.
  12. Infection Control at Home. In collaboration with the UP Department of Infectious Diseases and the CSIR, community health workers are trained to assess and advise on infection control measures at home. 
  13. Integration of patient care in the district health system – to and from community health teams clinics and hospitals. Family medicine registrars working at district hospitals, clinics and WBOTS  are responsible for integrate the clinical care of patients through referral and follow up. Several research projects are linked to the process.
  14. COPC practiced in Private General Practice.  Supported by Novartis, IBM and Vodacom this project supports private GPs and GP organisations to have community health teams (WBOTS) in  private practices. The research aims to support an effective way of integrating private practice services and the public health system. 
  15. Development of COPC in Old Age Homes in Tshwane. In this project a number of old age homes (private and public) in Tshwane have been drawn into the ambit of communtiy health platform. Through COPC data and services are linked in each old age home to support the care of residents. 
  16. The use of mapping in the development of COPC. A PhD research study is being conducted to investigate the value of maps and map-making for nurses, doctors, community health care workers and allied health care professionals implementing COPC. 


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Published by Talita Hugo

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