Carers look after family members and friends requiring assistance due to illness, disability or other care and support needs. They may provide physical, medical or practical assistance and emotional support.
The amount and intensity of support that a carer provides will vary depending on the needs and current health of those they are caring for. Caring can sometimes involve round-the-clock responsibilities with little opportunity for respite. Carers may be juggling additional responsibilities including employment or providing support to other dependents.
These experiences can affect carers’ emotional and physical wellbeing and can impact their financial circumstances, particularly if they are required to give up work to fulfill their caring responsibilities. Carers also experience the challenges of witnessing a loved one’s illness or hardship.
Vulnerability to exploitation
The difficulties mentioned above can increase a carer’s vulnerability to exploitation. For example, financial difficulties could cause them to be financially exploited. This could involve taking out a risky loans or being targeted by fraudsters promising them a means to gain financial security.
The nature of someone’s caring role may lead to isolation. They may not be in regular contact with anyone who they could notify if they felt someone was trying to abuse or exploit them. These feelings of isolation and loneliness can also put carers at increased risk of entering exploitative friendships and relationships.
The person who the carer is supporting may have previously been exploited by people seeking to take advantage of their care and support needs. They and their carer may be targeted by these same individuals in the future.
Some carers may themselves have care and support needs (for example if they are an elderly person caring for their spouse), making them especially vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.