Web stitches interagency Patchwork to help the vulnerable

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Councils, government agencies and charities in Victoria are flocking to use an innovative webtool from the UK that connects professionals working with vulnerable people across many agencies.

The 2013 pilot project, launched by the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV), began by working with families and young people in Colac using a secure web application called Patchwork, developed in the UK by FutureGov. Patchwork allows practitioners from different community and health services to uncover the network of support agencies used by each client and to see each other’s contact details.

The aim is to provide improved and better co-ordinated services and to save time by making things run more smoothly for practitioners and clients alike.

It’s an idea that has caught on, says MAV President Bill McArthur.

“When our pilot began in 2013, we had five councils volunteer to take part. Initially pilot councils loaded 100 clients and connected with 44 different organisations to establish a network of more than 100 front line workers,” Mr McArthur said.

“So far, more than 180 organisations have signed up to Patchwork, ranging from local government, state department-funded agencies and non-government organisations. Patchwork is now live in 20 councils across Victoria with over 600 practitioners using the program.”

Meanwhile, in Colac the Patchwork program is being taken to the next level and opened out to include all services in the shire, who can now sign up.

Mr McArthur said that the scheme could feasibly chart a person’s journey from the cradle to the grave, showing what agencies had worked with them from maternal child health, early childhood education, schooling and youth work right up to aged care.

“It connects up service providers so that the more vulnerable people in our society only need to tell their story once, rather than go from service provider to service provider repeating it,” he said.

“Service providers can go into a secure site, rather than have to go through reams of paper and files and re-interview people that use these services. It’s all there for them.

“This is the way of the future for delivering health outcomes for vulnerable families and children, and we hope that town-wide adoption of Patchwork will increase.”

The integration project was funded through Regional Development Victoria’s Advancing Country Towns Colac Project (ACT). It is a collaborative effort between the MAV, FutureGov, ACT Colac, Glastonbury Community Services and Colac Otway Shire.

Victorian councils using the Patchwork program: Brimbank, Wyndham, Kingston, Melbourne, Yarra City, Warrnambool, Glenelg, Hobsons Bay, Frankston, Stonnington, Horsham, Wodonga, Ballarat, Banyule, Darebin, Hume, Baw Baw, Moreland, Colac Otway.

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