CUMBRIA'S largest provider of domiciliary care says they are facing worrying staffing shortages as Christmas approaches, amid growing concern not as many people are interested in taking up careers in the care sector.

Bellcare, a Workington headquartered care company say for the last six months they have struggled to recruit frontline carers across all their service areas.

A National Care Forum survey of more than 2,000 social care providers revealed that 74 percent of care companies across the UK have reported an increase in staff exits since April 2021, with half of the workers leaving due to stress.

Debbie Ellwood, Bellcare’s Registered Manager explains: “Recently we’ve been left thinking if being a carer is something people still think of as a valid career choice, we know ourselves that it absolutely is, but recent changes and the pandemic have clearly changed how people view the job and responsibilities.

“Personally, I started off as a health care assistant over 25 years ago, and not only does the sector have great career progression opportunities, but it is also one of the most rewarding jobs ever: we help, we care, and we support.

“It’s been tough throughout the pandemic, our frontline carers have worked through the thick off it, during the summer months working in intense heat whilst in full PPE, dealing with the emotional pressures, and often having to put a ‘face on’ for our service users to not cause panic and worry with regards to the pandemic.

“We all love our jobs and wouldn’t change it for the world, but due to an ageing workforce, Covid changing people’s circumstances and the issue with vaccinations we are really struggling to recruit.

"Recently I’ve often had to step in on the frontline, especially the last couple of weeks on the run-up to Christmas.”

In England 814,000 people receive home care services, the National Audit Office found, with 715,000 people actively working in the home care sector according to research by Skills For Care.

Carol Wilson, managing director of Bellcare said: “Our whole team both on the frontline and in the office are fantastically committed to their jobs, it’s been a hard couple of years for us and we do hope as the new year dawns that we can build our team and recruit many more committed and compassionate carers.

"Our recruitment drive is one of our main focuses as we head into the new year.”