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A caregiver or carer is an individual who usually provides unpaid help and support on a regular basis to a partner, child, relative, friend or neighbour who is frail, has a physical or mental health illness, disability or issues with substance misuse. The carer is not usually employed to provide this help but does so to improve the quality of that person's life. Although the terms may include professionals and paraprofessionals in the caring professions.
In the UK it is estimated that carers provide 52 billion pounds of services which is more than the equivalent of the NHS budget. Even if this estimate is exagerrated it indicate the amount of work carers contribute to a care economy.
In the past their role has been rather taken for granted but in recent years, particularly with the development of community care philosophies considerable effort has gone into supporting them in their work.
It is important to understand that many carers are themselves not always completely able. Young children caring for sick parents and older adults in their 80's looking after their parents can be particularly vulnerable and may benefit from considerable support.
Types of caregiver
Caregiver may refer to:
Types of setting in which caregiving occurs
Assessment of carers
The stress of caring
Caring can be a particular stressful experience for some people. It can often feel an unrelenting responsibility that can lead to social isolation, burnout, and even increased rates of illness amongst carers and this has been recognised in the concept of the caregiver burden .
Support services for carers
- Social meetings to prevent social isolation
- Sitting services to give carers a short break to shop or have an evening out.
- Residential respite care facilities to give people a break for longer , perhaps for a holiday etc.
- Professional advice and support as required, either by phone or through group meetings.
- Main article: Carers and carer organizations by country
For a list of carer resources for a each area of mental health see category:Carer pages by clicking on the link at the foot of the page.