As we reveal this week, several Jewish care homes will close in the next few years and the Jewish character of those that survive will likely be diluted. It is a double wake-up call for our community and demands urgent attention. We are not alone – the UK faces a social-care funding crisis – but we may need to act before the rest of the country decides to.
The NHS does not pay for residential, nursing or dementia care – it can barely afford to pay for our current medical care. Local authorities pay something but not enough to meet the culture-specific costs of a Jewish care home. And we can’t get insurance because insurers won’t touch social-care – it is too costly and unpredictable. Yet if we get dementia our care could cost us or our family £8,000 per month. Few of us have put money aside specifically for care, because we don’t know if we’ll need it.
Governments have tried to tackle the problem, but with no palatable options and voter-sensitivity, all attempts fail. Think of the Conservatives’ 2017 “dementia tax” and Labour’s 2010 “death tax”.
Germans pay 2.5 percent of their income from the age of 40, and that pays for everyone’s social care, but when a former minister recently proposed Brits paying one percent, he was laughed out of the room. In short, no solution is forthcoming or obvious.
Jewish care providers met in January to consider a report by consultants that told them what they already knew – that the current model is not viable. Nothing has been heard or announced publicly since then, until now.
This week, Nightingale Hammerson’s chief uses our newspaper to think outside the box, suggesting a Jewish community social-care insurance scheme. We all pay into a pot, for those who need it to access it. It is unlikely to fly, because it is a hard sell to persuade people to pay thousands of pounds into a pot they may not use, but ideas like this are needed.
There are no easy answers, but two klaxon-loud realisations: that to maintain Jewish care homes, we will need to pay more for them, and to protect our children from paying catastrophically high care costs, we need to plan for the worst.
Beyond the norm
Jewish News was honoured to be in Israel to see Norman Rosenbaum – a community hero and true mensch – receive Magen David Adom’s first Humanitarian of the Year award. It was an emotional ceremony on the lawn outside MDA’s blood centre in Tel Hashomer.
Norman is a doer and has brought together the community many times to purchase 12 much-needed ambulances for Israel’s emergency service. He’s attracted the limelight many times, not least with a Points of Light award from Theresa May and being honoured at our Night of Heroes gala dinner last year. Not that dear Norman cares a jot for accolades.
As he told us at the ceremony: “People matter, not awards.”