Connecting Like Patchwork - Civic Magazine September 2013


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Patchwork is a web-based tool designed in the UK to improve services for vulnerable families in maternal and child health, and youth services, by connecting practitioners has been piloted in five Victorian municipalities.

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Connecting Like Patchwork - Civic Magazine September 2013

  1. 1. A web based tool designed in the UK to improve services for vulnerable families in maternal and child health, and youth services, by connecting practitioners has been piloted in five Victorian municipalities. “Finally, our research was matched with the best technology solutions to improve maternal and child health, and youth services.” Around 140 clients and 30 practitioners from across the five pilot council areas signed up to be part of the Patchwork project. eveloped by UK-based digital public service design company FutureGov and funded by the MAV, Patchwork aims to connect government departments and agencies, along with community organisations and health services that work with common clients. Patchwork pilot councils Brimbank, Wyndham, Melbourne, Yarra and Kingston have worked collaboratively with the MAV and FutureGov since March this year. FutureGov Patchwork Program Manager Kirsty Elderton spent three months in Australia to work intensively with the pilot councils and program partners. “In designing Patchwork for Victoria we worked closely with the five councils that gave in-principle support to the project,” Ms Elderton said. “First we worked at getting the intent right with the people we’d be working with as part of the design team – maternal and child health nurses, managers and administrators. “Next we embarked on a great deal of background research into the design along with analysing and synthesising our information that formed the basis of the workshops we held with the councils. Wyndham City Council Mayor Heather Marcus said the project was an effective way to use simple technology solutions to connect staff from different agencies working with the same families. “By connecting the team around a family, it leads to earlier interventions and better outcomes,” Cr Marcus said. “The information families provide is securely stored on the Patchwork application and it’s also important to remember that families must agree to take part in the program before they provide any details.” Melbourne City Council also saw value in Patchwork’s ability to connect vulnerable families through its universal and enhanced maternal and child health services. “Most councils are aware of the risks to young children,” Melbourne Family Health Coordinator Wendy Jones said. “In the annual child death review report, it is often identified that professionals that have information about the child and the family had not been connected. “There are a lot of people working in this field that are passionate about looking at ways to come up with better solutions. “We saw Patchwork as a product that can meet this need, particularly when families move out of the municipality, to keep them connected.” Brimbank City Council joined the pilot project to explore ways Patchwork could assist local youth service providers. “We saw a number of benefits in Patchwork including improving Patchwork is expected to help vulnerable families by connecting practitioners through councils’ maternal and child health, and youth services. 1 2   c i vi c
  2. 2. Join the second stage of the Patchwork roll-out, starting in November. Email Clare Hargreaves at for more information. Improved use of data to inform decision making for all people Principals to guide decision-making IMPROVED OUTCOMES FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES Improve customer experience/reduce barrier to entry Strengthen collaborative and partnership working collaboration between providers,” Director Community Wellbeing Neil Whiteside said. “There are also potential benefits to young people who have workers with multiple service providers, and it will help workers identify who else is working with the young person while enabling access to other providers’ contact details.” MAV President Bill McArthur said while the MAV’s initial focus had been on maternal and child health, and youth services, Patchwork could be applied to a wide range of human service areas. “We will explore the opportunity to roll it out to all Victorian councils, and to create links with other public sector and community agencies,” he said. An evaluation report on the Patchwork project will be available late 2013.  c i vi c   1 3