Chief Executive Zoom with Cockfosters & Southgate Synagogue

03 Aug 2020

Jewish Care Chief Executive, Daniel Carmel-Brown was interviewed by Cockfosters & N Southgate United Synagogue’s Danny Hockman on Wednesday on their Coffee & Company Zoom. The chief executive also answered questions from community members about a wide range of issues the organisation has faced during the pandemic and on how the organisation is planning for the future.

A major focus was the vital role of the 3600 volunteers to the organisation. Daniel said, “With many members of this synagogue being volunteers for Jewish Care, I want to thank you for what you’ve done over the many years. I’m sure you find it as hard not to volunteer and we are missing our volunteers in the care homes. Our volunteers bring so much to our homes including the Jewish in Jewish Care and though for now we are finding ways to do that more remotely and virtually, we are starting to return to normal.

He continued, “We now have admissions to our care homes, families are having outdoor socially-distanced visits and we look forward to a time when volunteers can return to bring that special connection to our care home community again. It will be very much on an individual care home basis and in a way that will not be at risk to care homes or to the individuals who volunteers. The coronavirus has changed the nature of human interaction and we’ve all had to adapt to that. Though many of our older volunteers are not able to go out to our care homes and community centres or deliver Meals on Wheels, as a large organisation we were lucky to be able to recruit 600 new volunteers. People who were previously busy have found themselves more available to volunteer, for example, students and people who have been furloughed. We have been very fortunate and people recognise that like the NHS, Jewish Care was at the frontline and we have matched our volunteers location and skills with where we needed support.

“Our frontline carers and nurses were heroes during this pandemic. They had to carry on working in our care homes, though everyone was being told to stay at home they didn’t have a choice and they were putting their lives at risk as a result of doing their jobs. Our younger volunteers have also put themselves at risk providing services to Meals on Wheels in our community which was essential.”

 “The way our community is set up creates a sense of responsibility to volunteer, especially in a synagogue and the wider community is an extension of that. We like to give of our time and give financially as well. I think it’s rooted in our teachings, in our families and in our values and we see that at the best of times and also at the most challenging time. And it has been a very challenging time for our community. Across the globe we respond as human beings in a crisis in a very positive way.                                                    

“Our volunteers and volunteering has changed in many ways and fundamentally so now it’s about taking skills and experiences in life and in business and matching it up with what’s needed in the organisation. We want to utilise the very best skills in the community.”

When asked about PPE during the lockdown period, Daniel explained, “We were very fortunate that donors came forward to donate or supply PPE so we never had a day when we didn’t have enough PPE, we were fortunate enough to always be able to secure and procure it..”

Talking about how the organisation is moving forward after the effects of the pandemic, Daniel says, “Financially it’s been challenging. Our costs increased with more staff, more PPE, investing in technology for families to talk to their loved ones and we estimated that would create a huge financial impact. We also knew that sadly, we would lose people to the Coronavirus and also through other causes so that our occupancy rate would go down during the pandemic and that we would not be able to take new admissions in order to protect and keep safe residents and staff. That’s why together with other Jewish homes including Nightingale Hammerson and The Fed, we decided to launch the Jewish Care Homes Emergency Appeal that saw us through the first few months but it’s not going to help us through the pandemic in the long-term. It will fundamentally change how we will do things, as things won’t be the same for many years.”

“We are very lucky in our community to have Jewish Care, but nowadays when people get to the end of their lives the care and support they need tends to be far greater. The services needed for dementia care are very high and as the baby boom generation ages, we will see more demands from this part of the community. We know that now 45% of our residents can now pay for their own care but as a charity we are responsible that those who don’t have capacity to pay for their care are looked after. This, as well as fundraising, will be increasingly challenging as people will find themselves financially impacted by the pandemic.”

He also discussed how the organisation is working to plan for the future, saying, “We work very closely in partnership with the Jewish community infrastructure and with other care organisations, on a national scale we have a strong voice amongst the umbrella organisations that represent the sector. We have been invited to be part of the Department of Health review so the Government hears the voice of the care sector.”

If you would like to listen to the interview you can click here Coffee&CompanyLive Wednesday 29 July 2020