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.

Anyone could be a carer – a 15-year-old girl looking after a parent with an alcohol problem, a 40-year-old man caring for his partner who has terminal cancer, or an 80-year-old woman looking after her husband who has Alzheimer's disease.

Carers in the UK

  • There are around seven million carers in the UK  – that is one in ten people. This is rising.
  • Three in five people will be carers at some point in their lives in the UK. 
  • Of the UK's carers, 42% are men and 58% are women.  
  • The economic value of the contribution made by carers in the UK is £132bn a year.  
  • By 2030, the number of carers will increase by 3.4 million (around 60%).

What is the Difference Between a 'Carer' and a 'Carer Support Worker'?

A carer is someone who provides informal or unpaid care and support to someone such as a family member or friend.

A carer support worker or care worker is someone who is paid to care for someone who is ill or disabled. The care worker may assist and support the person with daily living tasks, such as washing or dressing.

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Who are Adult Carers?     Who are Young Carers?

Are You a Carer?

If you look after someone who is ill, disabled, has mental health problems or if they use drugs or alcohol, and they could not manage without your help then you are a carer.

You might be looking after someone close to you who needs help and support on a regular basis. Anyone can be a carer, at any time of their life.

The Role of a Carer

People take on caring responsibilities for different reasons. These can include:

  • Chronic illness
  • Physical disability
  • Neurological conditions
  • Mental health problems
  • Dementia and other memory-related illnesses
  • Addiction
  • Learning difficulties
  • Autism
  • Developmental disabilities in children

Each carer's experience is unique to their own circumstances

What Do Carers Do?

Carers carry out a variety of tasks, including:

  • 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.

There is no 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 dementia is a carer. So is a child who gives emotional support to a parent when their mental health requires it. The two situations are very different but both are common examples of the 7 million carers in the UK today.

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