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Carers and Empowerment in the UK: A Critical Reflection

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 June 2013

Mary Larkin
School of Applied Social Sciences, De Montfort University E-mail:
Alisoun Milne
School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, University of Kent E-mail:


This article provides a critical reflection on carer empowerment in the UK, an issue which has received limited attention in policy and research. The arena is characterised by considerable conceptual confusion around key terminology, carer, care and caring, and by limited understanding of the meaning and outcomes of carer empowerment. Despite increased national acknowledgment of carers, a politically active carers' movement and a number of policies intended to enhance the recognition and rights of carers, many carers remain invisible and receive little support from services, to the detriment of their own health and well-being. Addressing these challenges, alongside developing a robust theoretical foundation for taking the ‘carers' agenda’ forward, is needed if carers are to move towards a more empowered status in the twenty-first century.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013 

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