There are at least six million unpaid carers in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and 1.25 million provide at least 50 hours of care a week.1 One in five households contains a carer.2 Sixteen per cent of carers are over 65, and half of those being cared for are 75 or older.3 Many are ‘round the clock’ carers. Carers are the bedrock of the care and support system; the vast majority of care needs are provided by unpaid carers at home. The economic value of unpaid support that carers provide to our society has now reached £87 billion a year according to a recent study,3 potentially equivalent to the cost of providing another NHS. This contribution of carers deserves recognition and an understanding by health professionals that they act as partners in care. Without these carers, many more people would need long-term admission to hospital care, home placements or expensive home support packages.