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The Leveson Centre for the study of Ageing, Spirituality and Social Policy

Facing the Future

Oliver Valins, Institute for Jewish Policy Research, 2002, 246 pages, £10.00, ISBN 0-901113-29-8.

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Review by Alison M Johnson (Centre Consultant)

Facing the Future provides for the first time, and in one place, much of the key information needed for the strategic planing of services for older Jewish people. However the great strength of this excellent book is that the majority of the issues and challenges are directly relevant to all providers of long term care and policy makers in this area.

The book begins with a survey of the historical development of social care and of formal provision for older people. After an account of Jewish provision and the potential market for care, Dr Valins looks at institutional care with chapters on choosing a home, living in a Jewish home and key strategic issues. He concludes with a chapter looking at the future for formal long term care.

Of particular interest to Christian providers is his discussion of ethos and the need to provide services that are culturally appropriate in a setting that is comfortable and familiar. As one older person comments, 'It's like wearing a shoe that fits well. Why would I want to wear a shoe that doesn't fit properly?' The author comments on government policy that would rather avoid care being in 'segregated environments by distinctive ethnic or religious groups' and contrasts this with the provision of faith schools which is positively encouraged. In the words of Julia Neuberger, 'When you are looking towards the end of your life, you want to be with your own.'

The author helpfully highlights a number of matters for further research: the question of ethos discussed above; the role of religion, culture and ethnicity in the care of people with dementia; an examination of different models of care provided in institutional environments; and innovative ways of recruiting and retaining staff and volunteers. Hopefully the Leveson Centre may be able to take forward some of these issues.

The references at the end of each chapter provide an excellent bibliography of relevant literature. I would thoroughly recommend this comprehensive and well written book to anyone concerned about the care of older people in the 21st century.

Alison M Johnson (Centre Consultant)

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