PHR in Health and Social Care for older people – Regional development through learning within and across organisations

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The study draws on findings from a series of seven participatory action research projects in community care for older people carried out over a period of eight years in 20 municipalities in southern Sweden. The analysis here looks at social impact across administrative levels and geographical scales. Different professional groups and care workers in community care participated, crossing divides between social work and health care. The participatory methods all involved a phase of individual reflection, a phase of reflection in practice with colleagues and mixed groups at the regional level, including unit managers and directors in some stages. Impacts concerned interprofessional learning and improved conditions for collaboration in care for older people across institutional boundaries as well as organisational learning across the municipalities. The action research approach was characterised by intensive work with values, empowering low-status professional groups. Social impacts were achieved beyond each project by benefitting from the multi-stakeholder design, using the structure of the organisations and the regional R&D department of the Association of Local Authorities. Over time, the different projects thus contributed to regional development ‘from below’. Nevertheless, employer perspectives tended to determine which conclusions from the projects were eventually implemented and prioritised. Continued reflective dialogue meetings between professional groups are therefore, needed as part of regular work processes. Local and regional structures need forms of autonomy that allow them to implement recommendations from participatory projects. Finally, employee perspectives need to be reflected in decision-making at all levels, particularly including low-status groups of care staff.


External organisations
  • Malmö University
  • Scania’s Association of Local Authorities (Kommunförbundet Skåne)
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Medical and Health Sciences
  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • Human Geography


  • Participatory Health Research, organisational learning, empowerment, Regional development, communities of practice, action research
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)506-524
JournalEducational Action Research
Issue number4
Early online date2017 May 15
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Aug 8
Publication categoryResearch