The bulk of care in the community is carried out by lay carers. Recent policy initiatives to support them in the United Kingdom are outlined. There remains evidence of significant gaps in support from professional health and social-care workers including community nurses. This paper reports three studies of lay carers: those caring for older people, carers of technology-dependent children, and home-care workers involved in the “direct payments” scheme. Findings are reported in the areas of decisions about appropriate caring roles, the lay–professional boundary, training and respite opportunities and the expertise of lay carers. Recommendations for policy and practices are made.