There can be little worse than seeing a loved one in distress, need, in fragile or declining health, or crippled with a condition that robs them of the chance to lead a full and sometimes meaningful life.

But this is the sad reality for almost 500,000 New Zealanders working unpaid at home caring for an ill or disabled family member.

It must be heart-breaking to watch loved ones who may be robbed of their mobility, memory, personality, speech, bodily functions. While there will be love and compassion at the heart of the role, there must be huge frustrations, too.