Caregivers Nova Scotia (CNS) believes that there is a need to establish appropriate language with terminology acceptable to caregivers and that such language be adopted by health professionals, media, and the public and private sectors.  We support the definitions below.

Care Recipient: A person who receives care from an unpaid caregiver or paid care provider, either at home or in a facility.

Caregiver:  A person who gives unpaid care to someone, either at home or in a facility, who has a physical or mental health condition, or is chronically ill, frail, or elderly.

Caregivers may be spouses, adult children or in-laws, parents, siblings, youth, extended family members, friends, or family of choice.

In addition to ‘caregiver’ we support the term ‘family/friend caregiver’.  The addition of ‘friend’ is inclusive and reflects the reality of who caregivers are.   According to a 2013 Statistics Canada report:  “Caregiving was not limited to helping family members…the second most common category of care-recipients was close friends, colleagues or neighbours at 16%.”

Unpaid caregivers are not volunteers. They do not work in shifts as paid care providers do, and the majority have not received training to manage the complex needs their care recipient may have. Caregivers who live with their care recipient must often give care around the clock.  For these and other reasons, CNS believes the term ‘informal caregiver’ is not appropriate.  Caregivers have told us they feel the word ‘Informal’ diminishes and invalidates both their role in their loved one’s life and the nature of the care they give.

Carer:  See definition of 'Caregiver' above. 'Carer' is a term used in other countries such as the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand.

Care Provider:  A person who provides care and receives a salary or wage for their time. Care providers can range from a personal care worker or Continuing Care Assistant (CCA) who provides home care, to a healthcare professional such as a nurse (LPN, RN, NP), occupational therapist (OT), physiotherapist (PT), dietician (DT), physician (MD), and other licensed clinical professionals. They may be employed, self-employed, or contracted.

Click HERE for a glossary of additional terms that may be found throughout this website, as well as in our Caregiver's Handbook and other publications.