A good start, now to keep going!

This post has been authored by Paul Brewer, Head of Performance, Children’s Services, Brighton & Hove City Council

Patchwork has been receiving a lot of national attention recently, which has been a great validation of the idea, the project approach and the sheer hard work in Staffordshire, Brighton & Hove and of the FutureGov team.  The project has been highlighted in the Munro Review of Child Protection Progress Report and was also shortlisted in the Guardian’s Innovation Nation Awards.

With a project as complex as this, and with so many stakeholders, the key is now to keep the good start going with lots of on-the-ground engagement work and alignment to key strategic programmes which I know both Staffordshire and Brighton & Hove are achieving.  As Carrie pointed out at Brighton’s launch event last November, this is not a technology project, it’s a multi-agency project.  The bulk of the work is in facilitating change, getting front line staff together to look again at how multi-agency work is done and how it can be improved.  It’s also in reviewing our approaches to information sharing and engaging with services that are currently on the periphery of things, for whatever reason.  The technology is a vital component of course and it’s primary function right now is as an enabler of change.  That’s not always easy to get across, but we know genuine change cannot be delivered by installing a new system and expecting people to get on with it.

The national recognition gives us a real sense of being on the right track, but in truth we can only start to feel genuine success when users are saving lots of time and making connections that are helping them support children and families better.  This is what we think is going to happen, but between here and there is lots more hard work.

We have been in live test in Brighton & Hove with the tool for about 6 weeks now and early signs are good in terms of uptake and feedback.  We’ve had loads of interest from general practitioners and schools – parts of the system that have found it difficult to engage in other schemes in the past.  We’ll be continuing our testing into the summer now and looking forward to seeing version 1, due in the Autumn, when we hope to be moving into “families” rather than just children, a really important step.

I’m really looking forward to a workshop we’re holding in Brighton this afternoon with professionals from across the system, which will give us a much clearer sense of what is working and what the remaining barriers might be.  It’s always great to speak to end users, after all the paperwork and strategising.  The co-design sessions are fascinating and people really appreciate the opportunity to contribute.  It’s great to be able to offer a positive project in such difficult times too.

So, as we enjoy early success and make plans for the future, we will also make sure we keep strong focus on the present and doing the necessary hard work on the ground to work with very busy staff who, we must always remember, have heard many promises before.

Patchwork Feedback – Terminology

One thing we want to make sure that we get right with Patchwork is the terminology the system uses. Nothing in the Patchwork system should be complicated to understand, and we want to make the system feel like the rest of the web in terms of its simplicity and design.

So, is there any text in the Patchwork system so far that has confused you when you’ve read it?

At the moment, the system talks about practitioners as ‘agents’ and the organisations they work for as ‘agencies’. Do these terms make sense? Are we best talking about the people you work with and support as ‘clients’?

Do leave us a comment below to let us know your thoughts, or email [email protected]

Patchwork Feedback – The Practitioner Profile

This week we want to know what you think about the information that Patchwork stores about you, the practitioner. We need to get the right balance here, between providing all the information you need to know about other practitioners, whilst not asking you for more than you would be comfortable to share.

At the moment, Patchwork asks practice to provide;

– First name
– Surname
– Email address
– Contact Telephone Number
– The agency you work for
– Your role within that agency
– A description of your expertise

Is this enough? Is there anything else you think would be useful for practitioners to say about themselves? Would a photograph of the practitioner be of use too?

Let us know in the comments below. Alternatively, email [email protected].

Welcome to the Patchwork Feedback Process

Gez SmithHello, and welcome to the Patchwork blog for those of you who’ve not visited this part of the Internet before. I’m Gez, and I’m the product manager for the Patchwork system, which means I act as the bridge between you the practitioners, and the developers who actually build the software, acting as the ‘translator’ between the two groups.

We’re developing the Patchwork system some more at the moment, and so we’re going to be using this blog over the coming weeks to ask you some questions about how you think it should work, and hopefully provide you with some feedback on how we’re going to act on what you tell us as well.

We’ll be inviting you to share your thoughts by adding a comment to an individual blog post whenever you’ve got something to say. If you’d rather share your thoughts in private though, just email [email protected], which will come straight through to us here.

We’ll be starting with some specific questions about different parts of the Patchwork system and how you think they should work from next week. In the meantime though, if there’s anything you want to share about how Patchwork works at the moment, do let us know.

Looking forward to hearing what you have to say!