Back in March, the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) publicly announced the launch of the Patchwork pilot, led by the UK-based digital public service design company FutureGov with a consortium of local councils. The focus for the pilot was in the Maternity and Child Health (M&CH) sector.

Patchwork is a simple and powerful person-centred, self-directed tool for connecting a practitioners with practitioners. It’s a thin layer that takes the ‘detective work’ out of practitioners finding, locating, chasing up different parts of a client’s network.

As part of the engagement MAV also asked FutureGov to take a service design view exploring what frontline service delivery might look like into the future and how that might be supported by technology. This was where we came in, taking that specific look at Maternal and Child Health Services, mapping out where technology and service change could help a rethink in how M&CH practitioners are supported to do their job.

Four months on and here’s an update on the Patchwork Pilot from Kirsty Elderton, Patchwork Project Lead.

For our part, what follows is a snapshot of the service design experience we shared with the Councils.


Describing a service that can be designed

We set about undertaking a rapid service design process going deep with one Council – Wyndham City – and workshopping, prototyping and iterating opportunities with a range of Councils and the expertise of FutureGov; the usual service design stuff:

  1. Getting the intent right with the people we’d be working with – effectively conscripting Wyndham Council nurses, managers and administrators as part of the design team.
  2. Doing background research into what everybody said about the service or how they think things are supposed to work.
  3. Researching in the field with all the people involved in different aspects – from the frontline Enhanced and Universal nurses in their MCH Centres, and the so-called “Administrators” (who we discovered were really “Practice Managers”) in the back rooms answering the phones and navigating incompatible systems, to the managers and executives who make the decisions and manage a bigger business than just MC&H. All of whom we found to be passionate, engaged and engaging, and excited to be part of a different kind of conversation about the service.
  4. Analysing and synthesising all we’d found to get ready for workshopping and prototyping with more councils in Melbourne. In the workshop we were able to explore the service as a whole to see if what we heard matched what they experienced. We validated the different users we saw emerging and prototyped different service components to explore how Nurses and Managers would actually use solutions based on what they actually needed (beyond what they said they wanted, or thought they wanted).
  5. Finally, researching and matching possible technology solutions that would improve the service. This included working with FutureGov expertise to flesh out the possibilities from a UK-based view.


The end result was a comprehensive service design for a future service improved and supported by technology enablers. We delivered:

  • SD Aims

    Principles to guide decision-making

    Current State experience map that illustrated the insights and themes that emerged from field research and workshops.

  • A future state service system map and view of the future system from the perspective of future users.
  • Typologies of the key MCH and service systems users:
    • Carers – be they mother, father or other family
    • MCH Nurses from Universal to Enhanced
    • State Departments
    • State Councils
    • MCH Administrators and Co-ordinators
    • Associated Service Providers, GPs and Practice Nurses
  • Principles that could guide technology enabler decision-making for improving outcomes for children and families.
  • 17 technology enablers, including features and benefit that might help make things more efficient now (6-12 months) or improve service into the future (12 months to 2 years).


Where it’s all at now

A review of the MC&H service has been underway since April 2013 and we were able to present our findings to the Review Team and State Department representatives.

It was great that one of the key things that resonated with practitioners and Council managers in the workshops and as we presented back to Wyndham and MAV also resonated with those conducting the review. That is, user typologies – the description of the people in the system described based on what they’re trying to achieve, the role they play, and what kind of future experience would support them.

We believe strongly – from client and user feedback, and from our own philosophy on service design – that the typologies are the cornerstone of any service design. That is because services are designed for people using them.

We’d like to thank the wonderful people involved in the project that we’ve been involved in since November 2011:

  • MAV
  • Wyndham City Council
  • City of Melbourne
  • Brimbank City Council
  • Yarra City Council staff
  • Kingston City Council
  • And of course, FutureGov, and especially Kirsty Elderton the Patchwork Lead.