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Croydon carers of over-65s need better support services

Carers of people aged 65 and over in Croydon need far better support, according to a report by Healthwatch Croydon. This includes better communication between health providers and carers, more home support, better care planning, and better promotion of rights of carers.

There are over 50,000 people in Croydon over 65. Croydon has over 33,000 carers, with a significant number looking after over-65s. Around 35% of those registered as carers with Croydon Carers Support Centre look after over-65s.

Healthwatch Croydon, the local champion for better health and social care, heard the views of over 45 carers in Croydon in June 2016 gaining over 130 items of feedback.

This is what was reported:

Hospital discharge: Healthwatch Croydon published a report about this earlier this year on this issue. This new research finds that there are still communications problems with patients confused, carers not involved in decision-making and low information sharing.

Support at home: There are difficulties to accessing support, and when they are accessed they are delayed, minimal or no real support at all. For example, care workers do not say that they will be late, leading to uncertainty and concern.

Care planning: Health, mental health and social care providers each use their care plans, which are not linked, causing confusion and a reduced quality of service for the patient and carer.
Knowing their rights: Carers don’t know enough about their rights and entitlements including those new rights under Care Act 2014 – this means they don’t get access to the services they really need.

The report makes the following recommendations:

● That health providers need to build better communications processes, with better information on hospital discharge and clearer medication instructions.

● There needs to be better access to services and investment to ensure this happens. Social care workers need to regularly update patients throughout the day with likely visit times.

● Care plans need to be integrated with the focus on the patient’s needs, not the various providers.

● There should also be a better information campaign on carer’s rights and entitlements under Care Act 2014 which is accessible and easy-to-read.

Charlie Ladyman, CEO of Healthwatch Croydon said: “For too long, carers have been forgotten by health providers, yet what they do benefits the health service in ensuring over-65s are looked after in their own home, taking pressure off limited services This report recognises the crucial role they play and that their views need to be heard. Many of the issues and recommendations are simply down to better processes and integration of current systems. There needs to be a commitment by health and social care providers and commissioners to improve these processes, and also promote what is available and reduce this knowledge gap about rights and entitlements which is unfair to those who need it the most.”

A spokesperson from Croydon Council said, “Carers play an important role in enabling the elderly to maintain their independence. We welcome feedback from Healthwatch, as we recognise the importance of listening to the user and carer voice as an essential part of improving services. The report is timely, given the joint work currently going on between the Clinical Commissioning Group, the Council, Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, Croydon GPs and Age UK Croydon to design a new model of care for the elderly, which will be much more focussed on prevention, seamless joint working, and making more effective use of resources in the community, such as carers: we hope that this report will therefore help to inform the development of this new integrated model of care.”

You can view the report here. 

View press coverage in the Croydon Advertiser on 10 August.

View press coverage in the Croydon Guardian on 17 August.