Who is a carer?
A carer is anyone who cares, unpaid, for a family or friend who needs help and support due to illness, disability, a mental health condition or an addiction.
If you give significant support to another person, irrespective of whether you live with that person or not, you are considered a carer, even if the person you care for is unable, or even unwilling to acknowledge your involvement, and even if you have never thought of yourself as a carer before.
What is a carer?
Supporting someone else is sometimes called caring. You are a carer if you provide (unpaid) support and care for someone who has an illness, disability, mental health problem or addiction. Carers can provide all sorts of emotional and practical support. Family and Friend carers (sometimes referred to as unpaid or informal carers) are different to paid care workers who earn money for looking after someone.
Is it obvious when you're a carer?
Being someone's carer probably only describes part of your relationship with them. You may also be a parent, partner, sister, brother, child, friend or other family member. This relationship can be just as (or more) important to you. You may also have other caring roles as well, for example as a parent to other children.
You might even be caring for someone you have a difficult or distant relationship with. Either way, once unpaid carers have identified themselves as being in a caring role, many wish they had sought help sooner.
Supporting others can often be rewarding however it can be mentally and physically exhausting. The time you spend caring can really vary too - some people look after someone for just a short time and others find themselves caring for someone 24 hours a day for a long period of time.