The role of relatives as carers of people with chronic mental illness has long been emphasised and was legitimised by Sir Roy Griffiths in his report to the Secretary of State in 1988. The White Paper (Caring for People), however, merely pays lip service to the role of the family. It does not suggest how such help might be provided. There is no reference to relatives, or even ‘informal carers’ (the most recent way of describing relatives), in its sections on provision of services by Social Services or the Health Service. While ‘informal’ is clearly used to indicate ‘unpaid’, it emphasises that relatives, even as carers, are not part of the formal caring process and can, therefore, be ignored as part of the team. If relatives are to be part of the service, as carers, then they need, as Griffiths and the White Paper point out, to receive support and resources to fulfil this role. But what support and services? And who is to provide them?
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