Supporting lifelong learning – why the Smart Ageing Prize is crucial

  • Laura Ferris

    Laura Ferris

    Programme Coordinator

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At a time where job uncertainty is rife and many are being displaced from the jobs they have always known, the need to encourage and promote lifelong learning is becoming even more apparent, to equip people for a precarious future.

For Pia Wiborg Astrup, Head of Health Innovation for the Central Denmark Region and Smart Ageing Prize judge, knowledge is everything – sharing learnt knowledge and learning new knowledge should be an important part of everyone’s lives, regardless of age.

Lifelong Learning

Accordingly to this motto, Pia’s life is shaped. Pia is a dedicated advocate of lifelong learning. In 2007, she completed her degree in political science and after moving into the working world she continued to study, acquiring a degree in change management, communication organisation and strategic management. Currently she is studying health innovation and entrepreneurship – topics that will serve her incredibly well throughout her time on the Smart Ageing Prize judging panel.

Since 2010, Pia has worked for the Central Denmark Region and now acts as Head of Health Innovation. The region’s aim is to create an attractive and sustainable place to live for its citizens; its primary responsibility being healthcare. Pia and her colleagues want to contribute to building a more sustainable and efficient, high-quality healthcare system. They support hospitals and clinicians to devise innovative solutions in close collaboration with the patients and citizens they are trying to serve, fostering new ways of working and thinking.

“To develop as a human being, you have to acquire new knowledge throughout your life and put on new layers. This is also one of the reasons why I find this year’s theme for the Smart Ageing Prize very interesting and relevant.”

Arts and health throughout life

A new report from WHO stresses that music has a positive effect on our health. Pia – who is herself a passionate singer and Chairman of the Board at Midtjysk Chamber Choir – wants to help raise awareness of this message and highlights that, for her, engaging with music adds an “extra layer when developing as a human being”.

Due to the fact that part of the strategy in Regional Development in Central Denmark Region is to combine health and culture like health and music, she is able to unify her passion for music with her work. Her ambition is to “use music as a part of the treatment in our hospitals, both because of the clinical effects but also, most importantly, because it gives patients beautiful and meaningful moments in often critical times of their lives.”

“It is crucial that we work innovatively at hospitals to find new ways to offer services because budgets are tight and the demands from citizens for services are growing primarily because of the demographic development with an ageing population.”

In the last two years, Pia became an Advisory Board Member at AAL Programme as well as the CareWare Nordic, which is an EU project focusing on welfare technology trade. These positions allow her to bring valuable experience to the Smart Ageing Prize judging panel. She creates partnerships across sectors and countries, developing concepts to test new welfare technologies and innovative solutions. She also knows how to involve citizens at an early stage and how to support an entrepreneurial mindset. All of her experience and knowledge leads to a unique combination of an ecosystem approach blended with a holistic approach. Based on her approach Pia will “look at the solution from many different perspectives – to ensure that the solutions will be overall beneficial”. 

“I am very honoured and grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the judging panel and the opportunity to witness so many great solutions. I am sure this will also inspire me in my further work.”

Are you just as excited as Pia and we to get to know the 15 finalists?