There’s been sadness, but also joy and hope

Daniel Carmel-Brown
Daniel Carmel-Brown

As we look towards Rosh Hashanah and begin a time of reflection on the last year, the coronavirus pandemic is, sadly, what many of us will remember of the last 12 months. At Jewish Care, from an early stage, we took a series of measures to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 across all our resources, and continue to take measures in line with guidelines, to keep all those in our care safe and protected to the best of our ability.

Measures included cancelling all in-person events and gatherings, investing in PPE and procuring more than 1,750,000 items of PPE to date and suspending indoor visits to our care homes and independent living facilities.

We are now facilitating socially distanced, outdoor visits where it is safe to do so. We have also consistently campaigning for Covid-19 testing for our staff and residents.

We are also now able to accept new residents into our care homes where it is safe to do so. There are very strict criteria in place for how we take people into our care homes, including a negative Covid -19 test and a 14-day isolation period for all new residents.

We redeployed a number of Jewish Care staff to help facilitate phone calls, video calls or a Skype call with a loved one instead of a physical visit and purchased a number of additional iPads for use in our care homes for this purpose.

Jewish Care extended the offer of a number of additional services to those that these closures may have affected, including, but not limited to meals on wheels and phone befriending services, which have all been helped by the huge number of additional volunteers that have come forward.

By early September, we had delivered over 25,000 meals on wheels to those who need them and are making over 1,000 calls a week to the most vulnerable and isolated member of our community. In the run up to Rosh Hashanah these meals will include the traditional treats, such as honey and honey cakes.

Although we have had a number of residents, clients, staff and volunteers who have made a full recovery from Covid-19, our thoughts are with the families of those who sadly lost loved ones to the virus. They will always be a part of the Jewish Care family.

We have also had a number of very special moments during the pandemic. We celebrated birthdays, anniversaries and fundraising challenges. We celebrated Pesach in all of our homes and independent living facilities with Zoom seders, online Haggadahs, pre-recorded prayers, delivered seder plates and meals. Our residents were frequently sent letters, drawings and messages of support from the community, our volunteers and schoolchildren.

For Rosh Hashanah this year, we have a number of resources on our website, including a recorded shofar blowing, messages from community members and pre-recorded synagogue services.

There will also be a shofar blowing in care home gardens before Rosh Hashanah so residents can hear the sound through the windows.

This is also traditionally a time when one visits parents and deceased relative’s burial stones, to honour them. Jewish Care staff are now able to take a photo of the stone online to share with residents and members of community centres who would usually go to the burial grounds but are unable to do so.

We hope that you and your families keep safe and well, and that this Rosh Hashanah brings only a happy and healthy new year for us all.

About the Author
Daniel is Chief Executive of Jewish Care
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