Changing Times

12 Dec 2017

I sometimes wonder if the world is changing faster than ever before or if it’s just me getting older. When I first joined Jewish Care twenty years ago I used a map book to navigate myself to meetings, I took camera film to the shops to be developed and google was yet to be registered as a company.

Whilst today, I take my mobile phone and the internet for granted, rely on my sat nav to get me anywhere and love the instant gratification of seeing a photo the moment I take it. I must admit that at times I have struggled with some of these changes.

What often makes my struggles with technology worse is when I look over my shoulder at my daughters they are five steps ahead of me. Technology is second nature to their generation.

But it’s not just technology that has changed. Society has changed. Demographics continue to shift as people live longer. Increasing numbers of women are choosing not to have children and many more of us are living alone. 

Attitudes have changed. We expect and want more. I am often told by clients across all our services; “it’s not like what it used to be”. The truth is it isn’t. But whilst change can be difficult it is something I have always been aware I need to embrace.

Whilst the world changes so too does our community. In 1997, when I joined Jewish Care, synagogues were for many the heart of their community. Today, ultra-orthodox community aside, we are seeing a shift from religious identity to cultural identity. Approximately half of all UK Jews no longer belong to a synagogue.

There are increasing divides across the spectrum of Judaism that for a small community are becoming more apparent. Yet we come together as one when faced with adversity.

I have seen over the past twenty years our community become more confident as a Jewish community in the UK. We, may at times, be faced with anti-Semitism but generally, we are a community who has been accepted into this country. I think that the opening of JW3, a very public Jewish Community Centre that celebrates our culture, is a real example of this.

When I joined Jewish Care, I don’t think I anticipated how much change I would see the community and
organisation go through, (maybe that’s partly because I am not sure I expected to be working here for twenty years!). I came to relatively young organisation born out of the merger of two long standing communal organisations. An organisation that came about through change.

I came to an organisation who was supporting older people in their 70s and 80s. Today our clients are older, frailer and come to us with more complex care needs.

We have responded to demographic shifts and the needs of our clients through change. The development of independent living, housing with care and support, is one way we have adapted to meet differing and changing need for those who don’t want or need to live in a 24-hour care service.

The introduction of technology has shaped and changed so much of what we do. From alarm call systems in people’s homes, the introduction of electronic care plans in our residential homes to our residents taking part in activities on iPads and the work we are doing in our community centres to support members of the community to embrace technology. We have responded to the digital revolution by embracing changes, finding ways to use technology to enhance and improve the way we work.

However, some things haven’t and will never change and it is these things that I hold on tight to, not because I don’t like change, but because I know it is these are the things that keep us grounded in life. People can’t be replaced by robots when it comes to providing front line care services. We can be assisted by technology but people and their values are at the heart of delivering quality care.

The values and ethics imbedded in Judaism guide me and all we do here at Jewish Care. Fundamental concepts such as ‘Love your neighbour’ and ‘do unto others as you would have done to yourselves’.

Whilst its difficult for many of us to imagine or relate to the lives of our ancestors the values that guided them are as relevant today as they were then. They are our moral compass. They bond us together and drive us to look out for one and other.

As I look to the future my hope is of a community that can hold tight to its foundations and principle values and at the same time can look forward and see the opportunities that change can bring.