Warrington Borough Council, like many local authorities, is advising of possible delays and disruption to care services over the coming weeks.

These possible delays are due to a combination of the continued increase in demand for care, alongside staff shortages caused by national recruitment challenges and a spike in infection rates driven by the Omicron variant of coronavirus which have hit front line staff, services and providers.

This could result in care providers not being able to fulfil all care rotas, as they prioritise care and support to those most in need. Many care providers are also asking their staff to cancel Christmas leave to bolster the level of care support needed.

It is expected that home care workers who provide support to individuals to help them to live at home as independently as possible, may be particularly affected by the current challenges.

Despite the current circumstances, the council is doing all it can to ensure that disruption to the nearly 11,000 hours of care delivered every week is kept to an absolute minimum, though residents are being asked to be patient, as there may be delays to care starting, or care visit arrangement could temporarily change over the coming weeks.

All of this comes at a time when the council is working closely with the hospital, voluntary groups and other health services to get as many people safely home for Christmas as possible.

For example, Hannah who works for Care at Home Warrington is one of many hundreds of care workers that will be out and about through Christmas delivering essential care. Hannah said: “Even though I have not been working in care for very long, I find that it is very rewarding knowing that I’m helping those in need of care.

“I love talking and interacting with clients, making them smile and knowing they are happy makes it all worthwhile. I’m honoured to be working over the Christmas period, knowing the clients I see are okay and cared for during the festive season.”

Michelle, who provides care for the council, said: “Working Christmas day for me is very rewarding. Knowing that my work gives service users the opportunity to be discharged home from hospital, to then be able to spend Christmas with their loved ones, makes it all worthwhile. We are a very close team and we have all worked together to ensure the service is covered so that we also get the opportunity to spend some time with our families too.”

Cllr Paul Warburton, cabinet member for statutory health and adult social care, said: “I am very grateful for the care and commitment of Warrington’s adult social care teams who continue to care for some of our most vulnerable residents. We need to make sure that the services we provide, and the support we have available, is there for those who need help the most.

“To help this huge effort, we would be very grateful if you can look out for your neighbours and loved ones who may need some additional help over the festive period, but who may not necessarily require urgent access to a health or social care service. This means making sure they are safe and comfortable, and have plenty of food in their cupboards, for example. By everyone playing their part we aim to ensure that every bit of care and support that is available is used to help more people to be discharged from hospital who don’t need to be there.

“Secondly, please book your vaccine and booster when you can – there is a jab waiting for you. It’s vitally important as many people as possible take up the vaccine, as it our best defence through what will be a very demanding, challenging time for adult care services up and down the country.”

Warrington Voluntary Action’s ‘Good Neighbour’ scheme is available to support people who are feeling lonely or socially isolated, particularly those who will, sadly, have limited or no support around them, and may need help with the little things over the festive period.

This could be anything from a friendly telephone call, to help with carrying out a variety of practical tasks such as collecting essential shopping or medications or support with technology to help people to stay connected with friends and family.

If you or someone you know would benefit from the scheme, or if you would like to volunteer your time to help, please visit warringtonva.org.uk/good-neighbours.

If you think a job in social care could be for you, find out more about how you can #stepintosocialcare at carejobsnw.co.uk or by visiting warrington.gov.uk/jobs to browse the council’s latest vacancies.