A community of practice (CoP) is a group of people who share a concern, a set of challenges, or a passion about a topic. They deepen their knowledge and expertise by regularly interacting to create, share, and use knowledge. A CoP connects people to solutions, celebrates and spreads good practices, and spurs innovation. Those who are new to a field can learn from their more experienced peers and bring fresh ideas and perspectives.

There are three types of communities of practice.

These are not discrete categories. A community of practice may overlap two or even all three of these, or may shift between types.

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Link people for information exchange and learning

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Help people share ideas, goals, and strategies

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Enable members to work together for change

How is a community of practice different from a learning collaborative?

Communities of Practice…

  • Often continue indefinitely
  • Have a flexible, fluid membership
  • Address challenges as they arise
  • Build knowledge through sharing and collective problem-solving

Learning Collaboratives…

  • Are time-limited (typically 6-15 months)
  • Have a defined group of participants
  • Have specific, measurable goals
  • Build knowledge through teaching, practice, and sharing

Both are “all teach, all learn” approaches to practice-based learning! 

Alliance & Partner Communities of Practice

PS Suite EMR Users Community of Practice

Most Alliance member organizations use a common Electronic Medical Records (EMR) System – TELUS PS Suite. This community of practice, supported by Alliance staff, brings together PS Suite users from across our membership at multiple levels: data management coordinators (DMCs), managers, and health care providers.

Data Management Coordinators Regional User Groups

DMCs across Ontario have formed regional user groups (RUGS) to provide mutual support, engage in collaborative solution-finding, and share their learnings and insights. The RUGS are primary led and managed by users.

National Safer Supply Community of Practice

In the late 2010s, primary healthcare providers in Canada began prescribing opioids to people who live with opioid use disorder, as part of their response to the escalating crisis of opioid poisonings due to toxic street supply. Safer supply programs have since grown and spread across the country and are increasingly recognized as an important component of the crisis response.

In the fall of 2020, a community of practice for safer supply was formed in Ontario. In recognition of the need to scale up safer supply programs, Health Canada awarded $1 million to London InterCommunity Health Centre to scale up this community of practice to the national level, in partnership with the Alliance for Healthy Communities and the Canadian Association of People who Use Drugs. The new, National Safer Supply Community of Practice (NSS-CoP) was launched in 2021. It facilitates member meetings (drop-in sessions, working groups), a members’ discussion forum, public ‘hot topic’ and  'research spotlight' meetings and events. The CoP’s website is a knowledge and resource hub for safer supply practice and advocacy.

To learn more about the NSS-CoP and how to join, email SaferSupplyON@gmail.com.

ACEs & Community Resiliency Community of Practice

This Community of Practice is for anyone working in Alliance member organizations or their community partners, who wants to build capacity for ACEs- and resililence-informed care and approaches in their organizations and communities. ACEs, or Advcerse Childhood Experiences, are potentially traumatic experiences that can increase the risk of poor mental and physical health outcomes throughout the life course. Community resilience is a protective factor that can reduce the frequency and impact of ACEs. Building community resilience is a strength-based approach to whole-of-community care. People and organizations from all sectors collaborate to build a network of support for everyone's health, wellbeing, and psychological safety. Interested in learning more? Email LHS@AllianceON.org.

COVID-19 Vaccine Community of Practice

With the goal of working towards more equitable post-pandemic health outcomes, the Alliance for Healthier Communities received funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)’s Immunization Partnership Fund (IPF) to implement the Community Vaccination Promotion – Ontario (CVP-ON) project. This funding, starting April 2021 and extended to March 2023, recognizes the deep experience of Alliance members in supporting and working alongside marginalized individuals and groups, as well as their strong relationships of trust in local communities and their extensive work to date in responding to the pandemic. CVP-ON is part of a cross-Canada partnership with other national and provincial associations to promote vaccine trust, confidence, and uptake.

Social Prescribing Communities of Practice

Social prescribing is a practice dedicated to building up communities and fostering connections between like-minded people. In much the same way, the people who implement social prescribing initiatives, advocate for the social prescribing movement, or just want to deepen their understanding of social prescribing need a space to convene and learn from each other. With this need in mind, the Alliance developed two communities of practice to bring people together on national and provincial levels.

Both launched in fall 2021, the Canadian Social Prescribing CoP and the Ontario Social Prescribing CoP are facilitating interdisciplinary collaborations, sharing resources and knowledge, and building social connections across sectors to raise awareness about social prescribing. To learn more social prescribing and how to join our CoPs, see our registration page here or email communications@allianceon.org.

NEW! Finance Community of Practice

The Alliance is launching a new community of practice to make it easier for Finance & Data Management staff in our member organizations to connect with peers for collaboration, mentoring, and support. Depending on the needs and interests of the group, CoP activities may include presentations or workshops, sharing sessions, and focused conversations around shared challenges and topics of interest. Interested in participating, leading, or learning more? Sign up here. We aim to launch this CoP in early 2023. This Community of Practice will be led by its members. Alliance staff will provide backbone logistical and communications support.