SUPPORTS FOR THE CARER
The literature about family carers has highlighted the stress and social isolation many of them suffer, their employment and financial difficulties, as well as diverse emotional and health problems. 1 All of these are borne out by our survey findings. This chapter looks at the various supports available, of a formal or an informal kind. We start with the informal support of family and friends because this is the 'service' just about everyone uses.
Although our study has focused on the main or primary carer, the extent to which other family and friends lend support is very important. Previous studies have provided equivocal findings, emphasising both carers' isolation and stress and the strength of family bonds. Our study shows that this informal support is what carers mainly want, more so than the formal services described below. Consistent
• 'Having visitors and company makes a big differences.' • 'Having friends and neighbors close--they're always there if you need them.' • 'Just knowing that you're not alone, that in a crisis there'd be someone to turn to.'