Informal carers are people who give care or support to persons who are dependent because of long-term physical or mental ill-health or disability, or problems related to old age, usually at home and typically unpaid. These carers can be relatives of the person who needs care and support, or other volunteers. As they deal with serious matters and often under difficult circumstances, carers need particular attention and support from national, regional and local authorities to help them with their tasks. In general, to carry out their duties smoothly and efficiently they require a mix of suitable supporting services for the social and medical care to the person who needs care, as well as some financial support (including for instance contribution payments to social insurance systems) and flexible working conditions in their own profession.
On the other hand, formal carers, or professional carers, provide long-term care services as employees of an public or private organisation (or company), including both care provided in institutions like nursing homes as well as care provided to persons living at home. Professional care can be provided by for instance nurses, professionally trained care assistants or untrained care assistants.