Becoming a carer

Last updated: 3 October 2018


A carer is anyone who – unpaid – looks after a friend or family member who can't cope alone. This might be due to an illness, disability, mental health problem or addiction.

Many people don't recognise themselves as carers. You don't have to be related to, or live with, the person you care for. Carers come from all walks of life, all cultures and can be any age.

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

The time a caring role takes up can vary from carer to carer, and may 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

Your rights as a carer

The Carers Charter explains what your rights are under the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016.

Becoming a carer