A carer is anybody who looks after a family member, partner or friend who needs help because of their illness, frailty or disability. A carer is sometimes referred to as ‘family carer or ‘informal carer’ as opposed to a person who looks after someone as part of their job.  All the care they give is unpaid.

Many carers don't see themselves as carers.  They simply may think of themselves as a friend or family of the person they care for and it can be difficult for carers to see their caring role as separate from the relationship they have with the person they care for, whether they are a parent, son, daughter, sibling or friend.

The responsibilities and demands of being a carer can often mean that carers overlook their own health and wellbeing. Carers need good sources of help, support and information as they are often focused solely with the health and wellbeing of the person they care for.

Health and wellbeing

Some carers can suffer from poor health because of the demands of their caring role. For example, back pain can result from lifting or moving the person being cared for. It may also be difficult to maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine while caring. Without the right support, being a carer can be an extremely stressful role.

There is a lot of information available to carers, but they may not be aware of where to find it.  The NHS website has lots of information to support carers on a range of topics, including:

  • finances
  • health and wellbeing
  • advice and information
  • carers assessment
  • Personal Budget for carers (following assessment)
  • support groups – including specialist ones for mental health, learning disabilities, dementia and other particular conditions
  • access to respite care

In West Norfolk, there are a number of voluntary and community organisations which are there specifically to help you.

There are also national organisations which can help. 

  • the Carers Direct helpline on 0300 123 1053 provides free, confidential information and guidance on a number of topics; other contact options, such as webchat, text replay services and an online enquiry form,  are also available
  • local carers’ centres, such as those run by the Carers Trust
  • national caring organisations such as Carers UK and Contact.