Informal carers provide the majority of care for older people living in the community. The provision of care can be very stressful and is said to have an adverse effect on caregivers health. policy has recognised the need to support carers and a key objective has been to improve service provision for them. research has shown that service intervention can prevent the breakdown of care and admission to long term care. However, relatively few carers and older people use formal services. While the low uptake of services is documented it is not fully understood. This volumne focuses on the lives and experiences of carers who are unsupported by and hidden from the gaze of service providers. It considers the complex relationship between carers and service providers from the caregivers perspective. It asks why some carers provide high levels of care without support from service providers and what factors, if any, may lead to their acceptance of service intervention. Caregivers accounts iluminate the discussion of a temporal model of caregiving which is developed agianst the backcloth of the distinctive Scottish approach to policy on carers, identifying them as key partners in the provision of care. It is argued that for some being a hidden carer is but a stage, albeit a lengthy one, in an extended process and that many carers will move on eventually to acceptance of formal service support.