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Go Back Developing a Place‑Based Culture of Working

A cross-sector team of ‘collaborative transformation practitioners’ applied their leadership skills and knowledge to developing a place-based culture of working within St Helens. Their leadership training helped to catalyse and accelerate the progression of the ‘St Helens Cares’ integrated care system, with the remarkable pace and scale of the transformation now being recognised at a national level. 


In 2017 local response to the scale and complexity of the health and social care challenge saw leaders from key organisations across St Helens come together in an innovative new configuration to form the “St Helens People’s Board”. This borough-based partnership included public, private and third-sector organisations, some of which are not typically involved in the provision of health and care such as housing and blue light services. 

Their approach was underpinned by a commitment to untangle the complex interplay between wider determinants of health and wellbeing. Members of the Board worked to establish a shared vision and responsibility to manage demand; reduce costs and improve local health and care outcomes through setting up an integrated care system entitled “St Helens Cares” (SHC).

From national, regional and local agendas (Five Year Forward View, Cheshire and Merseyside Health and Care Partnership, Alliance LDS Plan), the SHC vision recognised the need for a more joined up, person-centred health and care system built on the prevention of ill health through improving community resilience. With the focus on solving the “care conundrum” faced by residents attempting to navigate the complex and fragmented system by providing “place-based solutions to meet local needs”.


To achieve the SHC vision the Board identified that a new way of working to break down organisational boundaries and drive a culture shift from partnership working to collaboration was required to effectively address the interdependencies of large scale transformation. A cross-sector “design and delivery” (D&D) team was established to lead the cultural change and accelerate the progress of projects within each of the priority areas.


To develop the collaborative leadership skills needed to deliver the SHC vision, the St Helens People’s Board utilised the ‘In Place’ Leadership funding to deliver a “collaborative transformation training” (CT Training) programme for the D&D team.

The programme was designed around a change management framework linked to set of leadership and OD tools designed to support the team to “lead confidently across boundaries”. The team developed their knowledge and skills using a range of techniques for establishing a shared vision, building trust and engaging stakeholders through to embarking on collaborative project design and delivery.

As the programme progressed, the participants applied their learning to develop “collaborative business cases” exploring governance, decision-making processes, as well as different return on investment measures for a range of projects underpinning the delivery of an integrated health and care system.


Following the programme, participants reported an enhanced understanding of the diverse roles, responsibilities, strategies and perspectives of organisations and individuals operating across the breadth of the borough. In particular, participants valued how the programme had helped them to develop their listening and communication skills to challenge assumptions about each other’s perspective:

“We developed our ability to listen and explore each other’s points of view… reaching beyond our comfort zone to live and breathe another point of view in order to understand it and challenge our own assumptions”

Upon completion of the programme, the D&D team became accredited “Collaborative Transformation Practitioners”, equipped with the skills, knowledge, confidence and resources to develop a culture of collaboration and innovation not only within their own team, but across the wider borough. Which; is understood to have catalysed and accelerated the pace of change of the key project across each of the SHC priority areas.

“We are all one under St Helens Cares – a system-wide collaborative culture”

If you are interested in finding out more about this project then please email

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