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Are you a carer?

Many people don’t recognise themselves as a carer; they see themselves as a loving relative or good friend. It is often when the needs of the person they are caring for increase that carers realise their own life is being impacted, or that the level of care they are providing cannot be sustained.

It is important that carers are enabled to fulfill their own aspirations while continuing to provide care. The first step is for carers to identify themselves as such, so that support can be put in place to ensure the needs of the person they care for are met while allowing the carer to continue with their own life, such as going to work or continuing with education.

A carer is someone of any age who is looking after a family member, partner or friend who cannot manage because of one or a combination of the following:

  • Illness
  • Frailty
  • Physical disability
  • Learning disability
  • Autism or autistic spectrum disorder
  • Mental health illness, or
  • Problems associated with substance misuse

The care provided might be for a few hours per week right up to 24 hours a day. The carer and the person they care for do not need to be living in the same home.

Providing care can encompass a wide range of activities, from helping with the shopping or paying bills on a regular basis, to providing round-the-clock personal care. Many carers provide physical help, such as washing, getting dressed, cooking, helping with medication and moving around. The care might also be less visible, such as providing help with finances, emotional support or encouragement, but it is equally important.

Young carers are children or young people who help to provide care for a family member. For more information please go to the Young carers section of this website. Young carers can also browse the pages in the Looking after someone section for information and advice to support them.

Many carers also have their own health needs and rely on a mutually supportive relationship, where they provide care to and also receive care from the other person.

Carers have a number of legal rights which were introduced under recent law, including:

  • The Care Act 2014
  • The Children and Families Act 2014
  • relevant provisions of the Equality Act 2010

The term carer in this context does not apply to:

  • Parents, except where they are looking after a child or children with disabilities or additional needs
  • Carers who are employed to provide care services to another person.