Looking back looking forward

29 Jul 2015

In November 1989, six weeks before the formation of Jewish Care, Marty and Doc launched themselves into the year 2015 in the box office success Back to the Future 2. One of the biggest challenges the film’s director faced was in predicting the future.

In many instances the film accurately predicted a number of technological changes, such as the rise of ubiquitous cameras, flat panel television sets mounted on walls, the ability to watch six channels at once, Internet video chat and advances in video gaming.

Doc and Marty didn’t even try and predict changes in medical advances when they stepped out of their time machine in 2015. Whilst their predictions in technological changes are impressive, I doubt they, or indeed any of us, would have been able to foresee changes in population demographics, medical advances and their impact on social care need. Back in 1989, as our communal leaders were finalising plans to bring together two already established communal organisations to form Jewish Care, they were looking to the future, predicting the need for some big changes and considering how we as a community could respond to these changes.

The same year that Jewish Care was formed, the government introduced the gamechanging NHS and Community Care Act. The Act was implemented to tackle spiraling central government social care costs, passing budget responsibility over to local authorities. While initially there was probably enough money in the system, with hindsight it seems clear that the community care reforms lie at the heart of more recent funding difficulties in local authority adult social care.

Changes in the 1990s saw a big push away from the “one size fits all – take it or leave it” approach to meeting social care needs into the development of a range of services that aimed to encourage choice and independence. As the state drew back from funding social care and people were encouraged to make their own decisions, increasing numbers of people were choosing to live at home. This has required a growth in support services to ensure those who choose to live at home can access support.

The creation of Jewish Care enabled us as a community to provide a coordinated approach to changing social care needs. Whilst much of our offering was focused on care home provision, we were already providing much-needed day and home care support.

As a forward looking organisation we have changed and evolved in response to changing needs and aspirations across the community.

Choice is very much at the heart of our work today. From care homes to day care, home care and independent living options we can choose how we want to live as we age. But we also recognise that choice comes with its own complexities. Making decisions, navigating around the health system and the social care world can be difficult, that’s why we place great importance on our helpline and social work teams. Not only can we at Jewish Care provide a range of services, we also provide advice and support that doesn’t seem to be on offer elsewhere.

Over the last decade local authority funding has faced more severe cuts than many could have predicted. The biggest casualty of these cuts is social care. The state is withdrawing from provision at an alarming rate. People are being encouraged to remain in their home with little support and increasingly complex needs. With cuts across the board, an ageing community, increasingly complex needs, a dramatic reduction in government funding and a system that for many is impossible to navigate, Jewish Care’s role is evidently increasingly important. Being old and Jewish does have its major advantages when it comes to support and social care.

Recognising that social care is a communal responsibility and a means by which to strengthen our community – for example through the mobilisation of thousands of volunteers – the foresight and innovation that has enabled the organisation to respond to the changing needs of the people we support over the last twenty five years will continue to be required. Whilst none of us can predict the future, we will continue to work hard to ensure that we are one step ahead of the game.

In these times of austerity the Jewish community can be proud of the way it supports Jewish Care and because of this support we are a model of social care and one of the few social care providers which is growing and not closing much-needed services.

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