Just one week before the general election last year, Jewish Care was visited by our local Conservative candidate, and because it was considered a marginal seat, he brought the Prime Minister with him. Whilst much of the coverage surrounding the Jewish community during the election campaign was focused on negative issues, I was keen to make sure we used this visit to focus on the positives.
We talked with the Prime Minister about how care providers like Jewish Care need the government to get to grips with how we can all survive in such a tough climate and where the benefits of living in an ageing society also brings many challenges too. I told the Prime Minister that in his efforts to build a national consensus on the issue of the long-term funding for social care, he should look for examples of organisations who not only survive, but thrive too.
I am of course mindful that there are many organisations who thrive, but I offer here just a few examples of how Jewish Care has been able to thrive as one of the medium size care providers which manages 10 care homes, a social work service and a range of community based provision, much of which is unfunded by government or local authorities.
In Jewish Care’s case, success most certainly breeds success. We have had a long-term strategy to consolidate our services on to modern, purpose-built care campuses. Each of these projects has required us to raise significant sums of money from our local communities. We have seen that if we engage communities in the concept, development and delivery of projects, people not only come on the journey, they stay with us and in many cases increase their levels of engagement.
One aspect of these developments has been to be brave and bold in moving our business models from old historic, paternalistic and charitable purposes, to develop much more of a mix, where we provide services which people can and do pay for. That ultimately enable us to continue to provide for those most in need. The greatest example of this has been the opening of Extra Care schemes, with two currently open and a third being built. These really are meeting a need for those who wish to age well as part of a community. While 20% of the apartments are designated as affordable housing, the remainder are let at market rent, with the organisation providing the personal care depending on individual needs.
This change of approach, which has evolved over the last 10 years, has helped us thrive in that decade. However, we are mindful that the 2020s will bring different challenges and know that to continue to thrive, we will have to continue to adapt.
The beginning of the year has marked the launch of our new strategy and within it there is a clear focus which recognises that over the next few years we most certainly won’t be able to continue to be an ‘all things to all people’ organisation.
Together with our board of trustees, we are setting out a pathway which will inevitably see us become more focused on our core business areas and provide other services in different and more efficient ways, often in partnership with others. Central to this will be a greater emphasis and investment in our people. After all, while technology has and will assist us, nothing can replace the people who provide the important care and support across our sector.