A carer is someone of any age who provides unpaid support to family or friends who could not manage without this help.
This could be caring for a relative, partner or friend who is ill, frail, disabled or has mental health or substance misuse problems. The term 'carer' should not be confused with a care worker, or care assistant, who receives payment for looking after someone.
Most of the help received by people in society who need support comes from friends or relatives acting as carers. A substantial number of these are children and young people. Most people do not choose to become carers, and many do not even recognise themselves as carers, seeing the support they provide as simply what a husband / daughter / son / sister / brother would do for someone they care about.
Carers often do a very difficult and demanding job. The physical and emotional demands involved in caring for somebody else can lead to strain, isolation and even illness (mental or physical). As a carer you need to recognise your own needs for help and support, and you have a right to expect others, such as professionals in health and social care to recognise those rights and direct you towards support which is appropriate for your individual situation.
These pages are intended as signposts to help you find information relevant to your caring situation, but are not a substitute for the specialist advice that individual carers may need.