Out and about with Project Mind
We are proud to be announce that Mr Ruan Spies, a final year Industrial Engineering student, at Stellenbosch University (pictured here with his supervisors), received a distinction for his final-year project and has been nominated for an award.
We approached the Department of Industrial Engineering for assistance in developing a trial planning tool that can be used to project trial recruitment rates and time taken to reach the target sample. Ruan took this on as his final year project. He has used project MIND recruitment data to develop a prototype for a tool that we hope we can further develop into an app. There are many uses for this tool, including the ability to budget more accurately for a trial and to use real-time data to project recruitment end-dates.
Project MIND completed an intensive, four-day field staff training programme during the month of April 2017 at the South African Medical Research Council, Cape Town. The training programme equipped field staff with skills to conduct assessments and recruit patients attending primary health care facilities in the Western Cape. Adherence counsellors from organisations including NORSA Community Care, Wola Nani and TB/HIV Care, as well as counsellors employed by the MRC attended the training. The counsellors received counselling training based on a blend of Motivational Interviewing and Problem-Solving Therapy. Project MIND is currently active at nine primary health care facilities including Khayelitsha Site-B CHC, Crossroads CHC, Gugulethu CHC, Worcester CDC, TC Newman CDC, Grabouw CHC, Hermanus CDC, Browns Farm CHC and Railton Clinic. The counsellors trained have been deployed to these facilities and are currently implementing the Project MIND counselling programme.
Project MIND staff recently concluded workshops that were conducted at several primary health care facilities in the Western Cape as part of the preparation for trial. Health care facilities including Gugulethu CHC, Crossroads CHC, Browns Farm CHC, Railton Clinic, TC Newman CDC, Worcester CDC, Khayelitsha Site-B CHC, Hermanus CDC and Grabouw CHC all participated in these workshops.
Lead by Dr Carrie Brook-Sumner, these workshops focused on the implementation aspects of the project, particularly “ building the readiness of the facilities to adopt the new intervention introduced by Project MIND.”
Asked about the benefits of these workshops for both project MIND and the health care facilities, Dr Brooke-Sumner replied that “providing a psychosocial intervention as part of chronic disease care is an important change to the service delivery of primary health care facilities.” She goes on to say that “project MIND aims to support not only the counsellors delivering the intervention, but also the wider health facility staff, to build this into a feasible and sustainable service in the facilities”
Dr Brooke-Sumner further expressed her satisfaction after the final workshop was completed, saying “the willingness of primary health care staff to assist with the implementation of project MIND despite the many challenges was wonderful to see and experience. Through these workshops I realised how much they valued their patients”.
Reports generated from these workshops will be presented to the facilities one month after its completion.
Professor Bronwyn Myers, chief specialist scientist at the South African Medical Research Council and principal investigator for project MIND was recently invited to speak at the South African Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use (SACENDU) Phase 40 meeting. According to their website, SACENDU “provides community-level public health surveillance of alcohol, tobacco and other drug (ATOD) use trends and associated consequences through the presentation and discussion of quantitative and qualitative research data”. Considering that risky alcohol use is one of the elements project MIND aims to address, Prof. Myers saw the event as a good opportunity to present the project to a multidisciplinary audience. One of those in attendance was Warren Burnhams - Key supervisor for the City of Cape Town’s Matrix substance use treatment centres – who had the following to say after the event:
“I think it’s [project MIND] a great idea as addressing health issues and mental health issues is vital in the field. If I remember correctly it’s not about just running an intervention but looking at the system and changes that need to be made to accommodate the intervention, and I think that is a critical aspect that is often missed out on. Decisions are made to run interventions without taking a serious look at the system changes that needs to happen to make it work.”
Speaking to Prof. Myers after the event she said that “I was happy to hear all the relevant questions after my presentation. It showed that other professionals experienced similar issues to those that project MIND aims to address such as promoting stronger linkages between chronic disease and HIV services, to name but one.” Currently, Prof. Myers is looking forward to work with the various Primary Health Care facilities and NGO’s to bridge the gap between chronic disease care and mental health treatment in a way that is cost-effective and sustainable.