Connecting Like Patchwork in Australia

Connecting Like Patchwork in Australia

Patchwork, the simple and secure web application that uses social technology to join up professionals across public services, has been piloted in five municipalities in Victoria, Australia.

A team headed up by Patchwork lead Kirsty Elderton has been working with practitioners to get the councils up and running and making the most of the system, improving ways of working and outcomes in the process.

Part of making sure Patchwork is adopted beyond the initial cohort of early adopters and enthusiasts is to explain to the wider staff at the five municipalities what Patchwork is, how the application works, and the benefits its bringing to them and their colleagues.

To help with this, the team at MAV (or Municipal Association of Victoria) have published an article featuring Patchwork in the September edition of Civic Magazine.

Headlined “Connecting Like Patchwork” in a nod to how Patchwork supports connected care and multi-agency working, the article gives a good overview of the background to Patchwork, how the application has met the councils’ needs and how it has been received by our colleagues in Australia.

You can read the full article below or take a look at the full issue of Civic Magazine here.

We’ll have more news on Patchwork’s progress in Australia once the pilot has been completed. In the meantime, sign up to the newsletter to keep up to date.

Connecting Like Patchwork

Developed 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.

“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.

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 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.