Changing demands for care of the elderly has put pressure on Jewish welfare agencies to adapt their properties. In south Manchester, the Morris Feinmann home’s solution has been the relocation of residents while its premises are rebuilt in a collaboration with a major regional care provider.
A number of Jewish care homes outside the capital have been closed or sold over the past year, leaving difficult choices for residents and their families. For example, occupants of Hull’s Menorah House, which announced its closure in April, will have to seek care in Leeds, 60 miles away, to enjoy kosher facilities.
Established over 50 years ago in a converted Victorian house in Didsbury, Morris Feinmann has been running at at an operational deficit of up to £300,000, with fluctuating under-occupancy over recent years. “The home was very expensive to maintain and difficult to staff,” explained trustee Helen Lister. “There wasn’t enough room for a dementia unit and there is more and more call for dementia care.”
In a move criticised by some for its haste, the trustees announced in December that residents would move to Allingham House, a non-Jewish care home near Altrincham, which would be converted for kosher use — even for the existing non-Jewish residents. Meanwhile, Morris Feinmann’s Didsbury facility would be rebuilt by 2015 in an £11 million scheme with CLS, a non-profit care firm running 26 homes in Cheshire.
Phase one — the move to Allingham — is now complete with only four of Morris Feinmann’s 48 residents not agreeing to transfer.
Viv Alexander could not explain to her 89-year-old mother Anita, who has dementia, why she had to move from Morris Feinmann. It had been a painful time but her mother was now settled. And she could visit her more because Allingham House was closer to her Bowdon home.
“I support what Morris Feinmann are doing,” she said. “It is something for the future of the community. All the residents have mixed well at Allingham, the Jewish and non-Jewish elements. It’s happened quite happily.”
Morris Feinmann treasurer Jonathan Sugarman anticipated that “three years down the line, we will have a new home, efficient and modern — and with a partner operating it which has the economies of scale and operating strategies we were struggling to provide”.