As momentum for Patchwork continues to grow in the UK, you can imagine how excited we were to touch down in Melbourne, Australia, last week to take Patchwork global. You can read some more about the how this came to be in one of our previous blog posts.
Needless to say last week was a busy week of getting over jet lag, getting our bearings, getting only a little lost in Melbourne (FYI, I count this as a huge success) and most importantly connecting with the 5 councils in Victoria we will be working with. We managed to catch up with all of them; Kingston, Yarra, City of Melbourne, Brimbank and Wyndham, to find out more about how they work and the difference they want to experience as a result of having Patchwork.
Patchwork will be used in both the Youth Service and the Maternal Child Health Teams, all who have a strong partnership edge to their work. As you can imagine we approach a project like this with some questions, the biggest of which is “will Patchwork fit into the context of their work in the same way that it does in the UK?”
We needn’t have worried. It seems there are some aspects to working in this area and with Patchwork that are universal:
1. A Desire to Strengthen Partnership Working
I feel like I can say with some confidence now that almost regardless of place and wherever you happen to be on your journey to truly integrated services for children and families, there is just something about this group of professionals that is committed to improvement. They are always seeking to do more, be better and to improve outcomes for their clients. Here in Melbourne, Patchwork is just one of many things that is going on to strengthen multi-agency working. We hope to be telling you more about some of their other work as the weeks go by.
2. Data Protection is Key
Wanting to protect people’s data and sharing that data to improve client care is also a universal tension. For many practitioners this connects with their own professional ethics and how they approach their role – often grounded in a need to build a relationship with clients and secure consent before they act. Of course, this isn’t possible in every situation and like many practitioners in the UK, front line workers want to get this right for their clients. What is really clear is that solutions need to work in a way that support front line workers and strengthens relationships with clients and other agencies rather than constrains them.
3. Trust is Vital to Strengthen Links
Here in Victoria, much work has been done in relation to the Privacy Act and gaining consent from clients so trust is established with their caseworker to both take care of their data but also that they will only share data when there is a legitimate reason to do so. As we work through this we will be sharing learning as my guess is some of these issues will resonate for many front line workers, and across many projects.
We will keep posting on the Patchwork blog about some of these aspects and more broadly about the project as it progresses. Make sure to check the blog regularly, subscribe by RSS for more insights, or get in touch for further info on how Patchwork could work for you.