1.6 Informal carers: summing up
Section 1 has explored what is meant by the term ‘informal carer’. I have developed a definition of an informal carer and examined it in the context of two rather unusual family situations, the Durrants’ and Katrina's. I have also noted some of the complications that trying to define and identify informal carers gives rise to.
I have not yet begun to address the difficult question of what label to give the people on the receiving end of care, people like Arthur or Katrina's mother. That is discussed in Section 2, and, as you will see, finding the right word for these people can be even more controversial than finding the right word for people who deliver care in families.
In the end, are definitions useful? The answer is, yes, they do have some uses. If you are not labelled as being in a category that is eligible for services, then you will not be provided with anything. Being called a young carer or an informal carer opens doors to resources of various kinds. But it can also distort a very complicated picture of relationships within families. So any definition needs to be used with caution. And, as the position of the Carers National Association shows (Section 1.3), claiming the right to impose your own definition is a part of public life. There will always be competing definitions of terms like informal carer, as long as they are in the public arena.