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.
The role of a carer is often under valued in society and some carers do not acknowledge their own role as a carer and see it as the norm. You are special and deserve the best support available too.
Each carer’s experience is unique to their own circumstances.
The causes of someone taking on caring responsibilities are varied but can include:
- Serious physical illness
- Long-term physical disability
- Long-term neurological conditions
- Mental health problems
- Learning difficulties
Just as the reasons why someone becomes a carer vary greatly, the variety of tasks that a carer fulfils is diverse. They can include the following duties:
- Practical household tasks such as cooking, cleaning, washing up, ironing, paying bills and financial management.
- Personal care such as bathing, dressing, lifting, administering medication and collecting prescriptions.
- Emotional support such as listening, offering advice and friendship.
Although the distinction is often made between a full-time or part-time carer, there is not a minimum time requirement or age restriction that “qualifies” someone as being more or less of a carer.
Someone in their seventies who cares 24/7 for their spouse with severe dementia is a carer. A teenager who offers emotional support and helps to keep the household running as and when the fluctuating nature of their parent’s mental health requires it — is also a carer. The two situations are very different. Both are individual examples of the 7 million carers in the UK today.