An unpaid carer is anyone looking after a family member, friend or neighbour who needs help. They might have an illness, disability, physical or mental health problem, or addiction.
A carer does not need to be living with the person they care for. Anybody can become a carer at any time in their life. Someone can be a carer for more than one person at a time. Carers can be any age, from young children to older people.
A young carer usually looks after a parent or a sibling and is:
- under 18 years old
- or 18 years old and still at school
Many people do not recognise themselves as carers. You do not have to be related to, or live with, the person to be a carer.
What carers do
There are many ways you might care for someone else, which include:
- practical tasks – like cooking, housework and shopping
- physical support – like lifting, helping someone on stairs or with physiotherapy
- personal care – like washing, dressing and helping with toileting needs
- managing the household budget and collecting benefits and prescriptions
- giving medication
- emotional support
- making sure the rights of the person you care for are being met
This could take up some or all of your time and involve:
- visiting a relative who lives far away once a month
- arranging hospital appointments for someone
- dropping in daily to a nearby disabled friend to give them a meal and company
- moving in with a relative to help them get better after an operation
- being there to provide 24 hour constant care for a partner
You're not considered a carer if the care being provided is part of a contract of employment or through voluntary work.
Your rights as a carer
The Carers' charter explains what your rights are under the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016.