Care Providers – Informal care

[SOURCE: Glanz A and Knapp M (2017) Understanding substantive and theoretical issues in long-term care. Glossary of key terms. From: Social Protection Investment in Long-Term Care Project, HORIZON 2020 - Grant Agreement No 649565. European Union. (The resource is accessible here)]

The term ‘informal care’ has a number of different definitions; it generally refers to care delivered by individuals who have not received formal training in care delivery. Informal carers (sometimes called simply ‘carers’ or ‘caregivers’) are frequently partners, family members, friends or neighbours of recipients, providing care and support on a regular basis, typically at home. They can be unpaid or paid, either in cash or kind (adapted from Freeman et al. 2017.) The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) definition of informal carers is ‘individuals providing LTC services on a regular basis, often on an unpaid basis and without contract, for example spouses/partners, family members, as well as neighbours or friends’ (Colombo et al. 2011). (It should be noted that terminology is not universally agreed, and the term ‘informal’ carer is not liked by some carer groups in the UK and now not often used.)

Across Europe and the rest of the world, the provision of informal long-term care far outweighs the provision of formal care. Friends and family, particularly women, are the mainstay of every long-term care system. A number of countries now have policy frameworks to support and encourage informal carers.

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