According to the Ministry of Social Development, at least one in ten New Zealanders provide care for a friend, loved one or whānau member needing everyday assistance. Knowing where to go for resources and support is crucial for continuing to support your loved ones.
Needs assessment process
For older people or people living with a disability to receive support services that are funded by their DHB, their needs must be assessed by a Needs Assessment Service Coordination agency (NASC). For older people, care needs may be assessed using interRAI, which is the primary assessment tool in aged care. To apply for a needs assessment, contact your doctor or local DHB.
If you provide unpaid care for a friend or whānau member, you may be eligible for financial assistance. Work and Income offer a Supported Living Payment as income for people who support someone at home full-time. Check their website for eligibility and how to apply. The Ministry of Health offers support for family carers under Funded Family Care, and eligibility is assessed by your NASC service. Even if you receive superannuation, you may still be eligible for other financial support if you are a full-time carer for another person. For more information on financial help, visit Work and Income, MSD, ACC, or the Ministry of Health websites.
Resources and support for family, whanau and carers
Seniorline is a website contracted by New Zealand DHBs and has helpful information about caring for an older person at home. Information on services and support for specific locations and disabilities can be found at Carers NZ, including family, whānau and carer support groups. If you want to connect with other family, whānau and carers in your area, you can also contact Carers NZ directly to be referred to a local network.
Carer's Strategy Action Plan 2019-2023
Mahi Aroha is the Carers’ Strategy Action Plan for 2019-2023. The aim of this is to promote better support for family, whānau and carers, to allow breaks from caring to improve personal health and wellbeing, to offer better financial assistance, and to support family, whānau and carers in their employment endeavours. This plan is focused on recognising people who provide unpaid care throughout Aotearoa.
Total Mobility Scheme
Set up by the Ministry of Transport and Waka Kotahi (NZTA), the Total Mobility Scheme provides assistance to those who have long term impairments by helping them access appropriate transport. This can include subsidising normal transport fares by 50 percent and helping fund the installation of wheelchair hoists. Contact your local Age Concern for more information or for a Total Mobility Scheme assessment. More information can be read here.
Self-care for family, whanau and carers
When caring for someone full-time, finding breaks for personal respite can be difficult. Carers NZ recommend respite to avoid carer burnout and to put your wellbeing first. Their Time Out Guide and section on carer wellbeing offers helpful advice on how to organise respite.
When looking after someone dependent on your care, it is important to put a written emergency plan in place. This can include a general emergency plan for natural disasters, and should also include a plan in case something happens to you and you are suddenly unable to keep supporting your friend, loved one or family member. Carers NZ have created a page for emergency planning to help you plan for an unexpected event.
Help for when caring ends
At some point, your role as a carer will end. This may be because the person needs a different level of care, has moved into a different care environment, or has passed away. If you and the person you care for are considering a different level of support such as residential care, it is important to begin this discussion before you can no longer manage your caring role. If the person you care for passes away, grief is a natural response to loss and everyone processes grief in different ways. After caring ends, whether it's because the person's level of care changes or they pass away, it is important to find support to help you transition to a new routine. Helpful advice for when caring ends can be found at Carers NZ, Carers UK or see our page on Grief and loss.
Websites of interest
- Carers NZ offer A Guide for Carers with helpful information on providing care, receiving financial help, taking care of assets, and useful contacts
- The Health and Disability Commissioner aims to promote and protect the rights of consumers, and can be used for advocacy, complaints, and understanding your rights