ACSI Camp 2013

How can we make more voices heard?

SALAR asks themselves how they might best reach users in order that their opinions and co-creation might be utilized, as well as how we can get policymakers of today to relinquish some of their power.

– Many local governments are becoming increasingly conscious of the fact that user involvement is necessary in order to find solutions to many of todays social challenges. Parallel to this we are becoming older and older, while the working population is decreasing. That is why SALAR is considering finding new methods of user and civic co-creation in order to improve the quality of many areas, such as health care, says Marie Pernebring, project manager at the department of economy and governance at SALAR.

One of the challenges of listening to users is finding good forums to exchange experiences. Marie continues:


– We have several old structures that control our society and at the same time we are facing new needs. In order for us to succeed in letting more and new stakeholders be part of for example health care, it is necessary for professionals to let go of some parts of the power they are holding.

The Sweden once led by popular movements and dominated by unions and employers is changing. Engagement in associations is drastically diminishing, which in part makes it harder to reach advocates for certain groups. When it comes to using knowledge, for example when building a hospital, it is no longer as obvious who will represent the users.

– We still often turn to ingrained structures, the big patient organisations, senior citizens organisations etc. but the problem is that they no longer represent the broad target group of today’s patients and users. Our dilemma is how to gain knowledge from such representatives as well as how to reach the younger generation and the new network of today in the best way. We have to consider how we can move from “the old power structure” and realize that knowledge today exists elsewhere than where we are used to finding it, says Marie Pernebring.

What Marie is talking about it a power shift and the need for involving and listening to new voices. And above all, a willingness to let these new voices join in. One of the reasons SALAR chooses to take part in ACSI Camp is the opportunity to get input from other parts of Europe.

– We want to listen to opinions from other sources than we usually use, before we continue discussing this issue internally. We hope to get impressions from other countries who might have come further than us, learning more about what challenges they have encountered and how they dealt with these challenges. If we also are able to connect with and draw learning from possible research that would be great, says Marie Pernebring and closes by saying:

– I think this is a general issue. We are many who need to take advantage and use more resources within society than what we do today. We also need to take a look at how we best can address old structures. The patient is the last untapped resource of our health care.

SALAR (Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions) s both an employers’ organisation and an organisation that represents and advocates for local government in Sweden. SALAR works for the interests of it’s members, offers support and service as well as conducting evaluations and taking part in different networks. 

Read more about ACSI here
Read about other challenges here


Written by Lotta Solding
Translated to english by Rebecca Allen Lamptey


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