Giving a Voice to Caregivers and Older Adults

Brigitte Bührlen, one of this year’s judges, describes her passion for people, their visibility within society and their quality of life.

Brigitte is a vital member of the Smart Ageing Prize judging panel as she draws on her personal experience and social engagement within the care sector to represent end users’ perspectives during the selection of our semi-finalists.

Empowering carers looking after loved ones

Brigitte has experienced and worked in the healthcare sector all her life, dedicating her time to helping others and advocating for their rights. She is the daughter of a doctor and an obstetrician, worked as a physiotherapist and personally cared for her mother, who suffered from dementia, for many years.

Caring for a relative is both mentally and physically strenuous and the lack of adequate caregiver rights and sufficient financial support works to exacerbate their position. Spurred on by the difficult situation she found herself in as a carer, Brigitte, along with others who were experiencing similar issues, founded an advisory board that aimed to improve the living conditions of carers and their relatives. She led the group for 12 years whilst also leading the Alzheimer Gesellschaft in Munich until 2002 and founded another group that gives carers respite from their responsibilities to their relatives under the Nachbarschaftshilfe Grünwald organisation.

“As long as I can think, I am interested in humans and their lives.”

Improving the lives of caregivers across Germany

The impact that she has had on the lives of caregivers is not limited to Munich. Brigitte is involved in nationwide networks at various levels, attending many conferences, congresses and symposiums on the topic. In 2010, Brigitte founded the WIR! Foundation which encourages and supports carers of relatives of all ages to come together to express their experiences, represent their interests and participate in discussions and committees. She is a “fighter for the dignity and rights of people in need of help, for old and helpless people as well as for relatives and caregivers”, tirelessly seeking to give a voice to people who too often remain unheard.

Why is Brigitte a fantastic asset to the Smart Ageing Prize judging panel?

As a judge for the Smart Ageing Prize, Brigitte is uniquely positioned to bring knowledge of the end user experiences and needs to the panel. Through her job and the many people with physical and mental limitations that she has met, she has “been able to gain a lot of experience to see which support can be helpful in everyday life and which is not”. Brigitte is extremely excited to see solutions from innovators that have thoroughly considered the needs of users in their planning.

Do you have a new idea or a solution that is ready for development and fulfills the Smart Ageing Prize criteria? If yes, then do not hesitate to apply now!

If you have any questions you can email us at smartageing@nesta.org.uk. The deadline for entries is 26th February 2020, 17:00 CET.