I was doing some research into the role of carers in the community and wanted to differentiate between carers, the people that they look after and also someone who is/was a carer and is now being looked after by a carer as well.

Since I couldn't find any references to the word "caree", I assume that there is some other term that is used?


I seem to see the term 'recipient' used in some of the organizations that provide services for carers and the people that they care for.

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    Like a patient or client? People who receive help aren't specialized so much. – user353675 Oct 21 '19 at 5:39
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    Ward: as in "carers and their wards." "5 b. A person under the protection or care of another." thefreedictionary.com/ward – Kris Oct 21 '19 at 7:38
  • It's not *caree but you could used "the cared (for)". – Kris Oct 21 '19 at 12:48
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    Also a charge, as in meaning 3.1 "A person or thing entrusted to the care of someone." – Weather Vane Oct 21 '19 at 13:33
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    Interesting, carer did not exist until about 1980, but Ngrams shows it to have exploded since then. I have been my parents primary care giver for the past ten years, have worked with all sorts of institutional care providers, and have never heard the word. But I do live in a bit of a backwater. – Phil Sweet Oct 22 '19 at 10:42

I can only speak for my experience here in the UK and our situation where care is provided by small Companies rather than a public body. The company would always use the term Client for the person they are caring for.

It becomes a little more difficult when the carer is looking after a friend or family member - or even if they are giving more personal care on a one-to-one basis, when "Client" seems too impersonal, but we don't really have a better term to use.

"Ward" is very old-fashioned in British English and is never used today except in formal legal contexts.

  • The only place I've ever heard 'ward' used is in Batman: Dick Grayson (Robin) was Bruce Wayne's ward. – Mitch Oct 21 '19 at 13:15
  • As I was typing that paragraph, all I could think about was Dick being Bruce's "ward". You're right, it's pretty much the only place it's ever used. We have a "Ward of court" - someone who is put into the care of the state, but that is also very unusual to hear used. – Lefty Oct 21 '19 at 16:56

It depends upon the relationship:

Ward or charge for a person who is the caretaker of someone where guardianship is the primary nature of the relationship. There may or may not be a financial component to this relationship.

Client or patient if the arrangement is more health/wellness based. If the caretaker is a lay person, (e.g. a home aide) I'd use client. If a nurse or other medically trained professional, then patient is more appropriate.

  • And what about if the carer is a spouse, child, or other family member? – Martin Bonner supports Monica Oct 21 '19 at 14:16
  • @MartinBonner most would just go with the existing relationship. I'm caring for my ailing spouse. I don't know that anyone has come up with a term otherwise. – David M Oct 21 '19 at 14:19

I don't think there is a general term. Client covers people being cared for by paid non-medical staff, patient covers people being cared for by medical staff, but we don't (yet) have a word for recipients of care (as a class) from family and friends.

"Recipient of care" might cover all three groups, but I don't think there is an established word or phrase.

  • I think it's probably because those receiving care from family and friends would probably just be described in terms of the underlying relationship. It's only in occupational settings where specific terms emerge, and many terms are now considered disparaging - for example, cripples, invalids, lunatics. – Steve Oct 22 '19 at 10:55

In a professional setting recipient is acceptable. When writing or speaking to the public try to follow George Orwell's advice to use Anglo-Saxon terms whenever possible. Professionals often overlook this point which is ironic when used by care givers. Older, lay, or barely literate people are offended by what they perceive as 'lawyerspeak', 'disabledtalk', or 'leftie bollox' to cite a few examples. It increases their sense of isolation, alienation, and resistance.
Ward, charge and family relationships feel right to me.


The most frequent term is the admittedly awkward and ugly "the cared-for".

Law for social workers has hundreds of instances.

It seems Google Book's viewer has recently made it impossible to copy and paste snippets.

It is recognized by some dictionaries, at least.

1 adj
having needed care and attention
“well- cared-for children”
Synonyms: attended, tended to
having a caretaker or other watcher


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