The fourth complication of my definition of a carer was networks. The drive to recognise someone as an informal carer or main carer risks leaving out of the picture other people who play an important part in sustaining someone, but who are not the main carer. In Lynne's case, for example, we heard that her boyfriend, Eddie, was an important figure. If her needs for care were under the spotlight, would Eddie figure? He probably does not count as a main carer, but without him her quality of life would be impoverished.
So, although my definition may be helpful in pointing at what we are talking about, it is a very general definition, and risks over-simplifying what might be an extremely complex set of relationships: it may include a lot of people in the category ‘informal carer’ who may prefer not to be labelled in that way, and exclude others.
To explore these limitations further, I shall apply the definition to another care situation.