COPE has a long-standing community outreach component known as COPE Connect. Originally aimed to raise awareness of services available, the model has now developed into delivering services through Mobile Clinic teams to those in more remote areas and who may experience barriers to accessing fixed-site rehabilitation services.
Barriers to accessing servicesmay include poor infrastructure, travelling costs and fear of the unknown (many patients have never left the borders of their district). The Mobile Clinic teams address these barriers by providing front-line services, linking communities and Provincial Rehabilitation Centres. Extending to 6 rural and remote provinces of Laos, joint CMR-COPE Mobile Clinic teams provide a range of prosthetic and orthotic (P&O) services addressing the immediate needs of people with disabilities.
People are invited to outreach camps held at the district level, where their condition is medically assessed by physical rehabilitation professionals including physiotherapists, prosthetists and orthotists (P&O), wheelchair specialists and surgeons. People requiring orthotic or assistive devices such as crutches, wheelchairs, walking and standing frames may receive them free of charge on the spot. The specialised Mobile Clinic vehicles are equipped with generators, tools and machines enabling the P&O staff to make simple devices, such as shoe modifications, on the spot, as well as repair existing ones. People needing physiotherapy are given exercises that they can do at home. When help is needed, their family members are also taught the exercises.
SERVICES REQUIRING REFERRAL AND FOLLOW UP
For more complex cases, Mobile Clinic teams take casts to fabricate prosthetic and orthotic devices at the Rehabilitation Centre. When the device is ready, the team contacts the individual to arrange transport to the appropriate Rehabilitation Center, where all treatment-related costs (food, accommodation, medical) are covered by COPE. The Mobile Clinic team will also arrange referrals for surgical procedures, such as stump revision (necessary before a device is fitted) or to other health service providers as needed.
LINKING COMMUNITIES AND SERVICES
The CMR-COPE Connect Mobile Clinic programme was piloted in 2016 and has succesfully continued into 2017. Linking communities with service providers in the field facilitates community discussion on the rights of people with disabilities, builds relationships with service providers and addresses fears or concerns that patients and their families may have regarding treatment and travelling to fixed-site Provincial Centres.