Purpose – This paper aims to report on the approach to change used in the development of a tool to assess patient status six months after stroke (the Greater Manchester Stroke Assessment Tool: GM-SAT). Design/methodology/approach – The overall approach to change is based on the Promoting Action on Research Implementation in Health Services (PARiHS) Framework, which involves extensive stakeholder engagement before implementation. A key feature was the use of a facilitator without previous clinical experience. Findings – The active process of change involved a range of stakeholders – commissioners, patients and professionals – as well as review of published research evidence. The result of this process was the creation of the GM-SAT. Practical implications – The details of the decision processes within the tool included a range of perspectives; the process of localisation led commissioners to identify gaps in care provision as well as learning from others in terms of how services might be provided and organised. The facilitator role was key at all stages in bringing together the wide range of perspectives; the relatively neutral perceived status of the facilitator enabled resistance to change to be minimised. Social implications – The output of this project, the GM-SAT, has the potential to significantly improve patients’ physical, psychological and social outcomes and optimise their quality of life. This will be explored further in future phases of work. Originality/value – A structured process of change which included multiple stakeholder involvement throughout, localisation of approaches and a dedicated independent facilitator role was effective in achieving the development of a useful tool (GM-SAT).