The definition of a carer

A carer is anyone who cares, unpaid, for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction cannot cope without their support.

Becoming a carer can be a gradual process with some people not recognising the changing nature of their relationship with the person they support. Carers may prefer to continue identifying primarily as a husband, wife, partner, sibling, parent, child, or friend, rather than as a Carer and that’s ok. While being a carer doesn’t define you, it may mean you have some important legal rights such as the right to some types of financial support, practical help, assistance technology and rights in the workplace.

You don't need to be alone in supporting someone to be defined as a carer – there can be several people who provide care as part of a family or support network team. At times, a carer might not even be recognised by the one who they are providing care to. This is sometimes due to illness and can be difficult to come to terms with.

The role of a carer might include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Practical Care: Support with cooking, housework, and shopping
  • Health Care: Support with managing illness or a condition, or helping to administer medication
  • Physical Care: Support with lifting, assisting, and helping when moving around
  • Emotional Care: Support by listening, offering moral support, or simply providing company
  • Personal Care: Support with dressing, washing, and toileting
  • Financial Care: Support with any financial affairs
  • Communication Care: Support for a communication problem or by offering a translation

Each caring role is unique and include a range of tasks and responsibilities.

Carers often become engulfed by competing demands, including work and family, and as a result may overlook their own needs. Raising awareness of carers may enable more people to seek support and help at an early stage and therefore delay when caring situations breakdown due to crisis.