What is a carer?

If you give unpaid support to a family member, partner, friend or neighbour who could not manage without this help, you may be a carer.

Not everyone sees themselves as a carer. You may think of the support you are giving as just doing your bit to help. But recognising that you are a carer can be the first step in getting the support you might need.

Caring can mean many things, including:

  • giving emotional support
  • helping with everyday tasks
  • providing transport
  • talking to others, such as health professionals, on the person’s behalf
  • helping with personal care.

Every caring situation is different. You may support the person every day, or a few times each week. As well as looking after them, you may have a job, or children who you look after too. You may not live with the person you care for, or be related to them.

Some people have more than one carer. The person who spends the most time looking after someone may be called their main carer.

Lots of young people are carers too. If you are aged under 18 and looking after someone with cancer, you may want to read our information for young carers.

I never thought of myself as a carer. I was just being a daughter, looking after my dad.

Victoria, who cared for her dad

Back to Looking after someone with cancer

Managing everyday needs

You may need to help the person you are caring for with things like medicines. You can get support to help you with this.

Other care options

You may sometimes need a break from caring. Help is available to support you with looking after your loved one.

If you're a carer with cancer

Looking after someone while going through treatment yourself can be challenging. Support is available for carers.