After arriving in Stockholm last night, we spent the day exploring the city to get an overview of Stockholm and did some sightseeing. In doing so, we were already able to collect many impressions for you. Of course, we did not forget about our project and have our first appointment at the Karolinska Institute (University Hospital of Stockholm) scheduled for tomorrow. We will keep you updated on how the appointment went!
Today we visited the Karolinska Institute and met Elisbet and her team. Elisbet is a speech and language therapist and has been working with CI kids, who come to the university hospital for adjustments and rehab, for many years.
Our first findings: the differences differences between Germany and Sweden are not that big. In the medical and educational sector, the development ran widely parallel since the 1980s/90s. It is now a standard that the Swedish health insurance covers all the cost for bilateral cochlear implants for children. Adults usually only get one CI.
Whilst being in Elisabet’s office, we also met Tove. Tove is 17 years old, visits a regular school, currently plans a year abroad in Paris and has got two cochlear implants since she was a baby. It was still unusual to have two cochlear implants as a baby in Tove’s age, because the health insurance covered one cochlear implant in Sweden back then. Tove’s parents had to pay for the second cochlear implant by themselves. Later Elisabet asked Tove, where she sees the biggest room for improvements regarding cochlear implants and the self-confident young woman replied, “Waterproof CIs are needed to make it easier for me to go swimming with my hearing friends.” If that’s all… 😉
Elisabet also gave us the directions to the best view over the city (honestly, we start assuming that there are more than one best views…) and to the bakery with the best Kanelbulle (=cinnamon rolls/ “slugs”” in German – HELLO? They are eating our mascot here! (Indeed, they are so delicious that we hardly could withstand them.)
On today’s agenda was a visit to the office of the HRF (Hörselskadades Riksförbund) – Sweden’s organisation for hard of hearing people. Here we encountered Stefan, the editor of the “auris” magazine, which is literally the Swedish sister of our “slug” (Die Schnecke) magazine.
After lunch, we had a very exciting meeting with some employees of the Swedish organisation for hard of hearing people. Elida, Frida and Hanna, all of them were either CI or hearing aid users themselves, told us a lot of about their lives and their experiences in Sweden’s society and educational system. We discovered that many of our experiences, developments and also possibilities are very similar. Differences we could rather find in the details. It was super nice meeting with them. We also experienced two sign language interpreters and watched in awe how they were able to translate between spoken English and Swedish sign language. Which leads us to our next discovery: the German and Swedish sign language seems to have many similarities, too – including the spike-helmet-sign for “German”. A coffee with milk could also be ordered in sign language without any problems.
Did we already mention “Fika”? We could really get used to the Swedish coffee ritual. The motto: “One Kanelbulle a day keeps the doctor away.” (If you don’t stay physically healthy with it, you will stay socially and mentally healthy at least.)
Tomorrow we will return to the HFR and have the opportunity to speak to one of the board members of the HFR.
Today started early – right after breakfast we went to Stockholm’s borough Kista where the office of the HFR is. Agneta, a member of the HFR board and CI user herself, already awaited us and fed us with further information about the national organization HFR. From a German point of view, the big, well-equipped office with its many full-time employees, who support the elected board at its political and educational work, caught our attention. This is possible because of the funds from the government and the support of approx. 25,000(!) HFR members.
Agneta was also able to give us an accurate number about CI users in Sweden. Compared to a total population of 10 million people in Sweden, there are about 3,600 CI users. Some political issues preyed on her mind too: the complicated health insurance system in order to get the cost of the cochlear implants covered which differs from state to state and the difficulty to get the cost covered for second cochlear implant during adulthood.
After being busy in the wee hours of the morning, we did an expedition through the Swedish history in the afternoon. The Skansen open-air museum offers Sweden like we know it from the Astrid Lindgren books. Then we relaxed in the royal gardens and sauntered back to the city through Strandvägen, passing marina and luxury hotels.
Uppsala (oops!) – no, we didn’t fall over one of the e-scooters lying all around, there really is a town named like this in Sweden. That’s where Nadine lives. She’s originally from Germany but has been working as a doctor at the local university hospital where she leads the CI team for many years. When we heard that there is a German CI doctor in Sweden, it was clear: we want to meet her! Luckily, Nadine actually had time for us and gave us a tour through the clinic. Nadine happily shared more details about CI or hearing aid care in Sweden. With the help from her colleague Karin, who works a social worker at the clinic and has a cochlear implant herself, she was able to fill last knowledge gaps in our questionnaire. It is completed now!
The meeting with Nadine and Karin was the last one with our Swedish “experts”. Now that we have all the needed information gathered, we have the pleasure of writing them down and keeping them in mind until the final CI scouts meeting in December. Before we leave Sweden the day after tomorrow, we want to enjoy as much of the Swedish lifestyle as possible and explore the Stockholm archipelago.
Finally, weekend! For the people in Stockholm it means get on a boat and cruise to the Swedish archipelago. And we’ve been there! As announced, we had a free Saturday today and wanted to enjoy a special Swedish experience. That’s why there is no long report for today, but instead, we have lots of pictures in store for you to get an overview of the Swedish weekend lifestyle. Have fun whilst enjoying our pictures!
What you can see in the pictures: the island of Vaxholm and impressions from the ferry route Stockholm – Vaxholm.
What you can’t see in the pictures: summerly 25 degrees, the splashing of the waves, the air-filling smell of ripe apples and the ultimate holiday feeling.
Adjö Stockholm! After a last stroll through the old town (Gamla stan) we are flying home today. We’re leaving Stockholm with a lot of new knowledge and information for our CI scout project as well as many unforgettable experiences and memories.
We thank everybody who supported us in Sweden and in Germany and we are curious to find out what the following CI scouts will learn about their assigned countries!