An exploration of the UK carer world

Who is a carer?   




There is no single definition of a "carer". (See here via Kindle, Item 2.1) 


A carer is someone who, without payment, provides help and support to a partner, child, relative, friend or neighbour, who could not manage without their help. This could be due to age, physical or mental illness, addiction or disability.

The term carer should not be confused with a care worker, or care assistant, who receives payment for looking after someone.  

more later on this page


The term 'unpaid carer' is typically defined as:

'Individuals who care for a friend, relative or neighbour without receiving paid income in addition to income received through the benefits system' 

more at No. 6 here


Clearly, things can be unclear.  When using the term "carer" on this website, the seemingly conventional understanding will be followed - b and c both sum it up.  When paid carers are under discussion, the term "unpaid carer" may well be used in contrast or to provide clarity.

  1. Carers may not stand out
  2. Six million people in the UK provide care
  3. Impact on a person's life
  4. Carers save the UK economy £87bn a year
  5. Common sense
  6. Answers  to the "Who is a carer?" question
  7. How young do they start?
  8. Men Only
  9. Former Carers
  10. Carer definitions 
  11. Difficulties experienced by carers
  12. Carers who work
  13. Dramatic increase
  14. Kinship carers
  15. Carer Information Strategy
  16. Gender
  Postscript - Daleks care too

1   Carers may not stand out

As the top graphic on this page depicts, carers may not stand out.  They don't run around with Carer armbands.


Anyone can become a carer; carers come from all walks of life, all cultures and can be of any age.

Many carers do not consider themselves to be a carer, they are just looking after their mother, son, or best friend, just getting on with it and doing what anyone else would in the same situation.

Carers don’t choose to become carers: it just happens and they have to get on with it – if they did not do it, who would and what would happen to the person they care for?  more here

2   Six million people in the UK provide care

According to Carers UK, and based on the 2001 census, around six million people in the UK provide care on an unpaid basis for a relative, friend or neighbour in need of support due to old age, disability, frailty or illness. The population of carers is dynamic: at least a third of all people will fulfill a caring role at some point in their lives.

How many unpaid carers are there in the UK  -  take your pick.

3  Impact on a person's life

Research has shown that becoming a carer can have many impacts on a person's life. These include financial aspects, exclusion and discrimination at work, social isolation, and poor health through stress and physical injury.

4   Carers save the UK economy £87bn a year

At least half of all carers are in full or part-time employment and some care for more than one person. Carers save the UK economy an estimated £87bn a year, and economic considerations form a key element in government policy to support carers. source

see also No. 15

5  Common sense


Common sense says that caring  in our context  is associated with women more than it is with men.  


Men die younger than women.  It follows that men will need care earlier in their lives than women.


If a carer is needed in a household where both parents have jobs, it is quite likely that the mother wins the case for being the carer.


More at No. 5 here.

6   Answers  to the "Who is a carer?" question

There are answers  to the "Who is a carer?" question in the long list here,

7  How young do they start?  more   

Providing unpaid care may have an adverse affect on young carers’ general health here.

8   Former Carers 

9   Carer definitions could begin here.

10  Difficulties experienced by carers

Read about the difficulties experienced by carers using the "See inside this book" facility on the left - Item 1.5 here.  You can picture Brian of the waving fist (above) reading the last two sentences.

11  Carers who work

We look at carers who work, here.

12 Dramatic increase

Over the last decade there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people who are regarded or regard themselves as carers, due to a strong carers movement that has the support of this government. Those who were regarded as spouses, parents and siblings are now just regarded as carers, and while family members may sometimes be wrong, society believes carers always know best, even when it is far from the case. more

13 Kinship carers (8.9 here)  or otherwise


A person is a provider of unpaid care if they look after or give help or support to family members, friends, neighbours or others because of long-term physical or mental ill health or disability, or problems related to old age. This does not include any activities as part of paid employment.



No distinction is made about whether any care that a person provides is within their own household or outside of the household, so no explicit link can be made about whether the care provided is for a person within the household who has poor general health, or a long-term health problem, or disability. 

more and stats here

14 Carer Information Strategy - Lothian

A carer is generally defined as: a person of any age who provides, or intends to provide, unpaid help and support to a relative, friend or neighbour, who cannot manage to live independently without the carer’s help, due to frailty, illness, disability or addiction.

The work of informal carers saves the public purse an estimated £5 billion.(Attributed to Carers UK)

source here.

15 Gender

What does the Office of National Statistics find about the gender of carers?

Just over half (58%) of the 5.41 million people providing some level of unpaid care in England are female and 42% are male. This higher proportion of female carers is consistent across all regions. Female carers are representative of 11.9% of the total female population of England and Wales, and male carers are representative of 9% of the male population. Ten years ago these figures were 11.5% and 8.8%. 

much more here


Even Daleks carehere

pagetop here