In a nutshell:
Still not sure? This page will give you
- The definition of a carer
- An "am I a carer" quiz
- Examples of carer roles
“A carer is someone of any age who provides unpaid support to family or friends who could not manage without this help due to illness, disability, mental ill health or a substance misuse problem.” (Carers UK)
It may be that you are assisting someone with any single or combination of the following duties:
- Emotional support like listening and talking
- Household chores like cleaning, cooking, washing, ironing or shopping
- Medical care such as helping with medicine dosages or delivery
- Personal care like feeding, getting to the toilet, washing and dressing
- Physical care ensuring the person can move around their home
A carer is different from a paid carer, who may be an employee or work on a self-employed basis. If you are unpaid and providing care then the chances are that you may be entitled to support.
Do any of the following statements sound familiar?
Still not sure? Read our carer case studies to get a more in depth understanding.
CASE STUDY ONE:
Sarah is an articulate 15 year old who loves medicine and wants to study to be a doctor when she leaves school. Over recent years, Sarah’s father has needed to spend an increasing amount of time looking after his mother, Betty, who’s in her nineties and is becoming increasingly frail.
To help out, Sarah sees her grandmother after school each day and visits at weekends for a couple of hours. She’ll make her tea, help out with household duties and talk to her.
Sarah feels that it’s her duty to support her grandmother, even though she often misses out on events with her friends.
Is Sarah a carer in this scenario?
Yes, it doesn’t matter that Sarah is only young; she’s giving up a substantial amount of her time to help and support her grandmother, so she is a carer.
CASE STUDY TWO:
John lives in Wales and works full time as an editor for a local newspaper, which is a demanding job. His partner Jan works in tourism and recently gave birth to their first child.
John’s younger sister Jo lives in York and they’ve been very close since childhood. Jo developed mental health difficulties as a teenager and became withdrawn and depressed. She takes medication which helps her to manage her condition, but sometimes has difficulties.
John worries about Jo, but his location, work commitments and family circumstances make it difficult for him to meet up with her very often. However, he makes time to call her every night. These calls are a great source of support for Jo, particularly when she’s feeling low.
In this scenario is John a carer?
Yes, John isn’t able to provide direct care to his sister and doesn’t even live in the area, however he’s still a carer since his daily phone calls are a great source of support for her.
CASE STUDY THREE:
Gemma is 35 and is married with three children. Her youngest child started senior school last year and since then, Gemma has worked in a care home for older people.
Many of the residents at the care home require high levels of care and are unable to undertake normal daily tasks such as washing or dressing without assistance.
Gemma mainly works night shifts, which enables her to be at home when the children return from school. Though she does get very tired at times, the money she earns helps her to treat the children to things she wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.
In this scenario is Gemma a carer?
No, the term carer doesn’t apply to anyone who works for an organisation that provides care, whether that’s as a paid employee or self-employed. These people would only be classed as a carer if they also had unpaid carer responsibilities external to their paid work.