Carers need better support from healthcare providers in Croydon, a patient watchdog has warned.

Healthwatch Croydon said a lack of communication with hospital staff when patients are discharged and disparities between providers’ patient care plans were impacting on the quality of care.

Its report into care for over-65s found home support was often delayed or offered minimal help, leaving elderly people worried and uncertain.

One carer cited said he was unaware of help available that “would have made mum’s life better”.

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David Sutch, 60, of Coulsdon, was the sole carer for his mother Vera for three years until she died from heart complications aged 90 in 2013.

Mrs Sutch suffered a collapsed vertebrae in 2010, leaving her son to look after her full time.

He said: “I just thought I was looking after my mum but I was her carer and there are a lot of people out there who think the same and don’t realise they are carers. My whole day revolved around my mum, I could go out for a period of time but all the time I was thinking ‘I must get back to mum’.

He said while medics did their best to look after his mother, he was unaware there were support services available in the borough until after she died.

Mr Sutch now volunteers for the Croydon Carers Support Centre to help others in similar positions.

He added: “There are times when I think, ‘If only I had known about this when mum was alive.’ It would have made a world of difference to me.

“I hate to think that people are as much in the dark as I was.”

There are more than 50,000 pensioners in Croydon and 33,000 carers. Of those carers, just 35 per cent are registered with support services.

Charlie Ladyman, chief executive of Healthwatch Croydon, said: “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.”

Agnelo Fernandes, assistant clinical chair of Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Together with Croydon Council and the health providers in the borough, we are working to transform the way services are delivered in the borough for people over 65, by putting the things that matter most to patients, their carers and families at the heart of service provision.

“The models of care we are developing will support carers by joining up their care to better support people in their own homes.”

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