Thanks go to Paul Brewer, Head of Performance for Children’s Services in Brighton and Hove Council, for writing this guest post for us. As well as leading on all things performance for Children’s Services, Paul has also been leading the Patchwork project in Brighton and Hove.
He has been involved with the project from the very beginning and here he shares some of his thinking about what it takes to make Patchwork happen on the ground.
Patchwork is not a technology project…
Patchwork is an incredibly interesting and challenging project to work on. I remember back at Brighton & Hove’s launch event in November 2011, Carrie from Futuregov put up a slide of a road stretching out to the horizon, talking about how Patchwork was not a technology project. Well, that was so true!
It is about connections across agencies
In the period since, I’ve seen some amazing connections made between different practitioner groups, deep discussion about the nature of multi-agency working and growing confidence around the need to get on and share information to help provide the best care.
Patchwork has also helped bring support services from different organisations together. Having a real thing to discuss and implement has been really galvanizing and helped lots of people move away from abstractions. It really hasn’t been easy at times, but I guess that’s when you know something is helping you change and make breakthroughs.
Because Patchwork is about creating the professional network in an area, the stakeholder map is large and varied. We’ve done a lot of work in Brighton & Hove engaging with organisations by finding ways to explain Patchwork that make the most sense to them, and this seems to have worked. We have a satisfyingly long and varied list of engaged organisations and practitioners.
It’s been really helpful to…
Ask people what benefits they see arising from Patchwork really helps. They can think about their own work and realize for themselves how Patchwork could help. This approach has also helped us figure out which groups of organisations should go live at the same time. For example, we’re pulling together a bunch of organisations that deal with adult mental health and substance misuse, both statutory and community and voluntary sector.
Spending time with the different stakeholders within organisations has been invaluable. It’s not enough to get the support of only the Chief Executive, although that is very helpful! It’s been really beneficial to give others dedicated time, and listen to their perspectives and address their concerns.
Avoiding forcing Patchwork on people by making it “mandatory” has also been the right approach. Forcing things through doesn’t work in the long run. We’re doing lots to encourage use and are making sure certain types of involvement (such as children with a child protection social worker) can always be found, to help make the benefits really clear.
And in a nutshell
I think the engagement journey in Brighton & Hove has been about confidence in the Patchwork idea and a respectful but unswerving persistence. Seeing people move from skepticism or cynicism and into trust and enthusiasm is amazing. And I think this come from finding ways to give the thing away, so that people can feel it can be theirs too. Their own “no-brainer”.
Oh, and being able to talk very precisely about the law and privacy definitely helps.
If you want to know more about the Brighton and Hove experience you can check out their website, or contact us here at FutureGov and we will be happy to help. It would also be great to hear whether you enjoyed this post as we line up some more guest posts for Patchwork.