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Social enterprise Locala Health and Wellbeing (Locala) employs around 1,300 people and turned over £75.9 million in 2022. A membership organisation and community interest company, it works across Kirklees, Calderdale, Bradford, Stockport and Tameside. It reinvests financial surpluses into supporting patient care and community projects.
Locala proves that agility, working at pace, responsiveness and an ambition for change are entirely consistent with a model which supports colleagues and its workforce.

It has pioneered a model of integrated short-term care to patients in Kirklees through the Kirklees Independent Living Team (KILT) Partnership, launched in 2018 to support patients through hospital discharge, the urgent community response model (which reduces unnecessary hospital admissions) and by providing short-term care including intermediate care beds, reablement[1], and ‘discharge to assess’ outreach.
This system-based approach is consistent with the NHS Business Plan and its focus on ‘significantly increasing the number of people we can diagnose, treat and care for in a timely way’, and ‘doing things differently, accelerating partnership working through integrated care systems (ICSs) to make the most effective use of the resources available to us across health and social care, and ensure reducing inequalities in access is embedded in our approach’.


The partnership began after discussions took place between Karen Jackson, now Locala’s CEO, and Richard Parry, Director for Commissioning, Public Health and Adult Social Care at Kirklees Council.

‘There were already some services, like the reablement service, which Kirklees Council commissioned to Locala,’ says Helen Duke, Assistant Director of Operations for Integrated Communities at Locala, ‘and after the conversation about how to be more integrated in short term care for patients in the borough, we developed the idea of KILT and put together a project plan.’

Karen Jackson had previously worked as Improvement Director with NHS Improvement, where she was programme manager for the West Yorkshire Acceleration Zone, then interim CEO for Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust. She joined Locala in April 2018. Over 2018–19 Locala and Kirklees created a joint management board for KILT, which included directors from each organisation; joint management processes; and a strategy to be delivered, with agreed milestones, by a project management group. 

‘It worked really well,’ adds Duke, ‘and we went on to enhance it further, with an integrated quality committee; a joint metrics group; an integrated dashboard and joint reporting against delivery targets.’

Expansion, integration, funding, alliance

When the pandemic struck, KILT was able to progress at speed to set up an integrated ‘discharge to assess model’ – and its framework meant it could expand its services, ‘but we found the Kirklees Independent Living Team was more than just the intermediate care and reablement. We’ve expanded to become Kirklees’ Integrated Health and Social Care Services. It’s gone from strength to strength, really.’

As an enhanced element of collaborative working, the Kirklees Provider Alliance, with members of providers across Kirklees, made a joint, Kirklees-wide funding bid to NHS England. The Alliance was successful in becoming one of the seven national accelerator sites, securing two-year funding in support of the urgent community response to admission avoidance. ‘We were successful in the accelerator of testing out that model, which has continued to develop and enhance across the place ­– and we’re working as an alliance through this,’ adds Helen Duke.

The Alliance includes Locala, Kirklees Council, Local Care Direct and Curo Health, the GP Federation. All four organisations signed a partnership agreement with the ICB (integrated Care Board). This integrated approach, with shared roles, systems and governance, has broken barriers between organisations and developed relationships.

‘It’s enabled more effective support for patients, and the ability to rapidly address any gaps within people’s care needs,’ says Duke. And it is supporting high numbers of patients every month enabling many to avoid hospital admissions.

Enabling innovation

Helen Duke explains that Locala’s structure as an employee-led social enterprise enables innovation:

‘You can’t deliver crucial healthcare services to people in need without a healthy workforce,’ says Helen. She adds: ‘Colleague wellbeing is really high on the agenda here, and the entire culture is to look after the workforce.’[2]

‘Everything goes through our members’ council. We provide updates, I get challenges through there. I think it does help; we’re not an acute trust so we can be more creative and flexible in how we work.’

She adds that Locala’s purpose and structure means generating social value is threaded throughout the organisation, with ambition, colleague involvement, flexibility and employee wellbeing all coming naturally. It has helped the local authority with performance data, too, and is a model of effective partnership, cross-relationships and engagement, all in line with the NHS’ focus on partnerships, collaborative working and joint delivery.

[1] Reablement is defined by the Social Care Institute for Excellence as a ‘a person-centred approach within health and social care that helps individuals to learn or re-learn the skills necessary to be able to engage in activities / occupations that are important to them’.

[2] Interview with Helen Duke, Assistant Director of Operations for Integrated Communities, Locala, April 2023.

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