Some joined-up thinking - and £17m - brings care into new age


If all goes to plan, it is barely two months until the first residents of Jewish Care's newest home move in. And if there is currently something of the building site about the external spaces in the sprawling Friern Barnet complex to which the Kun Mor and George Kiss Home is a long-planned addition, the interior areas suggest imminent completion.

The new facility is part of a £17 million building and modernisation project at the renamed Betty and Asher Loftus Centre, also incorporating the Lady Sarah Cohen House nursing home and the Rosetrees residential home.

With the addition of 48 places at Kun Mor and George Kiss, offering personal and dementia care, the homes will have a total capacity of around 220. At least half the new facility's places are expected to be taken up by residents of the charity's Ella and Ridley Jacobs home in Hendon, which is being closed as part of a reorganisation. A "list of interest" has been opened for other potential residents.

Later in the year, the Sam Beckman Day Centre for those with memory impairment or dementia will also move from Hendon to the complex.

Betty and Asher Loftus is Jewish Care's first major development since the £44 million campus in Golders Green, which opened in 2010. Checking out the final stages of construction in Friern Barnet, Jewish Care property director, Jeff Andrews, says that although the Golders Green project has been a template, "we have learned from it and improved on it.

"The homes will be more inclusive here, although that is partly because of the way the site is. There will be more opportunities for people to come together." To illustrate the point, Mr Andrews makes his way to the Kun Mor and George Kiss building via the improved communal facilities for residents and visitors. These include a link between Lady Sarah Cohen House and Rosetrees with a new entrance, café and a considerable upgrade on the existing shop.

Imposing stained-glass windows are a feature of a larger synagogue. Already operational, it can seat 180 people theatre-style, and the intention is for it to be used for activities such as parties and musical events.

"By coming here, people can see that a care home is not a scary environment," he says. "We are demystifying it for the whole community."

Accompanying Mr Andrews is a keenly interested Margaret Ofori-Koree, manager of Ella and Ridley Jacobs, who will be transferring with her staff to the new home, which is split over three similar floors, each with 16 residential places. Among the aids for those with dementia are the open hanging areas in wardrobes, so that residents can see the clothes put out for them by care staff. Corridors have colour prompts.

Ms Ofori-Koree talks about the room sizes, bathrooms and toilets, lighting, nursing stations and spacious dining areas, with the wide-eyed enthusiasm of a child in a toy shop. "The ambience alone is something that can enhance the well-being of residents," she says. Her "closely knit" staff are looking forward to the move.

"I have people from Croydon who don't want to work at any other home. They want to come here with the team."

She approves equally warmly of the many open and enclosed verdant areas - the complex also faces parkland - which heighten the sense of tranquility. "The gardens are so large that residents can have outings within the centre. That and the activities will cure boredom." To this end, another benefit is the new Living Well team, with therapists and activity facilitators, which will work across the site.

And when the day centre transfers, it could serve as a feeder for the homes.

Lady Sarah Cohen is the original property on the complex, dating back to 1996 (Rosetrees opened in 2001), and all its rooms are being refurbished on a rolling basis over a two-year period.

The charity's director of care and community services, Neil Taylor, says that "over time, we will look at how we can expand the building and staff to provide things like support groups for carers.

"We have a vision to create a care community that isn't just about those living here or coming into the day centre. In the wider world, there are many care homes where residents aren't part of the community. We've always said it should not be like that.

"That's why we encourage volunteering, that's why we encourage friends and family to come in, and birthday celebrations."

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