The use of the term ‘family (informal) carer’, as it is currently conceptualized, is recent and is largely the product of increased attention in the academic and policy literature over the last two decades. Despite their fairly late arrival on the scene, family carers now occupy centre stage in UK government policy, having being described by the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, as the ‘unsung heroes’ of British life, who are essential to the fabric and character of Britain. Such recognition stems from the growing realization that family carers are the lynchpin of community care, providing 80% of all the care needed at an estimated saving to the UK government of some £40 billion annually.
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