How we will continue to care at a time of crisis

Jewish Care chief executive Daniel Carmel-Brown says the charity is prepared for every scenario but will need the full support of the community


We are living in unprecedented times. We said that last year, but this time it is different.

When I published Jewish Care’s plans for the next five years in December, I could not have anticipated just how relevant one of our objectives would become. Being “distinctively Jewish” is at the heart of our history, who we are today and who we will be in the future.

We tend to be positive in our outlook, enabling in our approach, promoting meaningful lives and making later life better. While that remains, everything we are doing right now stems from our tradition, and the one overarching mitzvah of pikuach nefesh, saving a life.

For much of the community, concerns about coronavirus only really landed in the last two weeks. Jewish Care, along with all the organisations we are so blessed to have supporting older people in our community, have been consumed by the situation since the beginning of the year.

It is incumbent on welfare organisations to plan for these situations, although we hope never to use them. Those plans are now being actioned. Jewish Care is well versed in handling infection control and all of us are doing everything we can, often moving quicker than government advice, to take steps which stem from our Jewish world view.

Those measures have been drastic, beginning with enhanced hygiene procedures, screening people visiting our care homes and last week moving to restrict access only to those who are essentially needed.

Sadly, this means relatives are not currently able to visit their loved ones, with the exception of residents who are at the very end of their lives. As I write this, we have just had to close all our community and day centres and increase the services we are able to offer in their place. We and many other care providers are doing this because we know what is right and we know what we are doing.

The community has trusted us to care for and support their relatives for generations and that confidence will be critical over the coming weeks. Please be understanding and do what we ask of you.

It is impossible to predict what will happen next but we are prepared for every scenario. And while little is within our control, where we can make decisions, we will, and we will need everyone in the community to be by our side.

Our highly skilled professional care staff and nurses are always crucial, and we may become even more dependent on the thousands of volunteers we are fortunate to have. However, we may need more. We may need to call on new volunteers and we might need additional financial resources too.

My plea to the community is to be ready to respond. Be ready for what Jewish Care asks of you. After all, more than half the residents who live in Jewish care-home environments live with us. But we have a wider responsibility and we are working closely with every organisation that cares for our loved ones. Be ready to respond to them too. There has never been a more critical moment for our community to come together. Be united in our tradition and truly hold our values dear. This is the time for “Jewish” care.



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