What is a carer? Do any of these apply to you?

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My child is physically disabled and relies on me for nearly everything, especially personal care and the injections he needs.

My aunt/brother/partner has a disability and I help with all sorts of things.

I have a teenage son/husband with drug/alcohol dependency who lives with me. I look after all the domestic and cooking side. I also have to get medical help when things get bad.

I regularly go to my friend’s as she is very isolated and depends on me for company and conversation.

My mother is elderly and frail – she can’t cook for herself or clean her flat. I go around every week to make sure she is eating properly and do the housework. Then I try to get her moving for some exercise.

Every evening I call my sister to keep her on track when she has panic attacks and encourage her to take her medication. When I am not working, at the weekends, I visit her too.

The man who lives next door has got a mental illness and other health issues. He can’t easily get himself to the hospital and I help him with his appointments and understanding what the medics say.

Click if any of these scenarios feel familiar

All those situations involve carers. Do you recognise yourself or someone you know?

These longer examples show just a few of the many ways carers are supporting others. And they may help you work out if you are a carer.

Scenario 1

Razia is a university graduate of 23 who lives with her parents and aunt. Over recent years, Razia’s aunt has developed early onset dementia. The other family members have jobs away from the home. Because Razia is still looking for employment, the daily needs of her aunt have gradually become her responsibility.

Razia bathes and dresses her aunt, provides her meals and gives her her tablets. She also makes sure she doesn’t harm herself or leave the house alone, spending most of the day with her.

She feels that it’s important to support her aunt, but she would like to go out to do paid work and develop her career.

Is Razia a carer? Yes. She is providing emotional, personal physical and medical care and she is unpaid.

Scenario 2

Nick has a cousin who grew up in his family who has been diagnosed with a serious mental health disorder. Nick lives in Essex and works as full time salesman for a car company. With his wife who also works full time, he has a young toddler.

Most of the time Ellen is fine but she can go off the rails if she stops taking her medication. Nick would like to visit Ellen in Bethnal Green every fortnight but with his commitments this is difficult, so he phones every night. Ellen depends heavily for support on the contact she gets from Nick.

Is Nick a carer? Yes. Nick doesn’t live in Ellen’s area and doesn’t manage to visit her very often to provide direct care. However, he is still a carer because the frequent phone calls are a very important part of the emotional support Ellen needs.

Scenario 3

Mai-Ling has three children aged between 11 and 15. She has been working in a care home for old people for about two years. Many of the residents need a great deal of care and require assistance to wash and dress and with other normal daily tasks.

Mai-Ling works the night shifts while her husband is at home with the children but so she can be there when her children get back from school. Mai-Ling’s responsibilities and routines are very tiring, but the money helps them cover their costs and leaves something extra for the children.

Is Mai-Ling a carer? No. Someone who works for an organisation that provides services like a care home, is not a carer while they are doing that paid work (as an employee or as a self employed person). However, they might be a carer in their personal life outside paid work.

Get in touch

The Carers Centre
21 Brayford Square
London, E1 0SG

020 7790 1765


Opening hours

Monday - Friday – 9.30am – 5pm
Saturday and Sunday – Closed

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