The New Zealand Carers' Strategy Action Plan for 2014 to 2018
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The New Zealand Carers’ Strategy Action Plan for 2014 to 2018 was launched in Parliament by the Minister for Senior Citizens, the Hon Jo Goodhew, on 18 February 2014.
The Action Plan for 2014 to 2018 was developed in consultation with whānau, aiga and carers. It builds on the results and lessons of the previous Carers’ Strategy Action Plan from 2008 to 2013 and reaffirms the Government’s commitment to the Carers’ Strategy.
Who are carers?
A carer provides care for someone close to them (family or friend) who needs help with everyday living because of a health condition, disability, or injury.
In many contexts, whānau, aiga and family adopt a collective caring role. Carers’ effort, understanding and compassion support people to live with dignity and participate more fully in society.
The New Zealand Carers’ Strategy recognises the immense contribution of whānau, aiga and carers to New Zealand. Its purpose is to improve support for carers.
The Carers’ Strategy was developed in a partnership between government agencies and the New Zealand Carers Alliance, a network of over 40 not-for-profit organisations. It addresses issues that impact on the thousands of New Zealanders who assist family members and friends who need help with everyday living because of a health condition, disability or injury.
The Strategy acknowledges the real difference carers can make in people’s lives. Improving support for carers is important for developing strong healthy families and meeting future challenges of providing care.
Since its establishment in 2008, the Carers’ Strategy has steered the Government’s work in supporting carers.
The Carers’ Strategy outlines the Government’s vision for carers in New Zealand:
New Zealand Aotearoa is a society that values individuals, families, whānau or aiga who support others who need help with their everyday living.
This will be achieved when:
- carers have choices and opportunities to participate in family life, social activities, employment and education
- carers’ voices are heard in decision-making that affects them.
The Strategy provides a framework of principles to guide policy development and the delivery of services by government agencies and non-government organisations (NGOs) that work with carers. These are:
- recognise diversity: acknowledge and respond to the diversity of needs and aspirations of carers
- be proactive: enable family focused support to be in place for carers when they need it
- enable carers: enable carers to have choices and the autonomy to develop, grow and sustain their personal, family and community support systems; and ensure that formal supports are reliable and are able to provide real support to carers
- be inclusive: acknowledge that the needs of carers, family, whānau, or aiga and the person being supported are often intertwined.
A key part of keeping the Strategy vibrant and effective is a partnership of commitment to the Strategy between Government and stakeholders. These stakeholders, along with Government, have a role in achieving the vision of this Strategy and include:
- families, whānau, aiga or circles of friends of carers
- people receiving support
- the community and voluntary sector, including NGOs and advocacy organisations
- employers, unions and other workplace organisations
- crown entities, for example, the Accident Compensation Corporation and District Health Boards
- the wider public.
The Carers’ Strategy Action Plan for 2014 to 2018
Consultation on the Action Plan
To develop the Carers’ Strategy Action Plan for 2014 to 2018, the Ministry of Social Development undertook extensive consultation with carers on a draft of the Action Plan during June and July 2013.
The draft took into account the priorities of the Carers Alliance, progress on the Action Plan for 2008 to 2013, international trends, and Government priorities.
Consultation was conducted through an online and postal questionnaire and focus group meetings.
Carers’ feedback was sought on:
- a proposed new objective: “Increase public awareness and understanding of the carer’s role”
- an amended objective: “Provide training and pathways to paid employment for carers, and support carers to achieve work/life balance” (originally worded “Provide training and pathways to employment for carers”)
- new actions for all of the objectives.
Eleven focus group meetings with carers around New Zealand were held for the consultation. Over 20 organisations and 400 respondents participated in an online consultation or submitted written submissions. The Ministry of Social Development also met with the New Zealand Carers Alliance, disability organisations and a group of health and disability professionals.
The Action Plan for 2014 to 2018 reflects that:
- the top priority for carers is being able to take a break when required
- respite options need to be flexible, whānau-, aiga- and carer-friendly, and available to all carers
- whānau, aiga and carers need good information about what respite options are available to them
- carer learning and well-being is a high priority, and learning needs to be developed with whānau, aiga and carer input, culturally appropriate and offered face to face as well as online and in print
- information available online is important but to be inclusive, multiple approaches to providing promotional resources and information are required.
Implementing the Action Plan
The actions in the Action Plan for 2014 to 2018 address areas identified by carers during the consultation process.
There are actions to achieve five objectives. The objectives are:
- Enable whānau, aiga, family and carers to take a break
- Protect the health and wellbeing of whānau, aiga, family and carers
- Provide information whānau, aiga, family and carers need
- Improve pathways to paid employment for carers and support for whānau, aiga, family and carers to balance their work, life and caring roles
- Increase awareness and understanding of the carer’s role.
A Guide for Carers - He Aratohu mā ngā Kaitiaki
In July 2013, the Ministry of Social Development released an updated version of the guide about support for carers.
Supported Living Payment – Financial assistance for full-time carers
The Supported Living Payment is financial assistance for people who have, or are caring for someone with, a health condition, injury or disability.
This benefit replaced the Domestic Purposes Benefit – Care of Sick or Infirm on 15 July 2013.
Full-time carers who have significant caring responsibilities and meet certain requirements are included as being eligible for the Supported Living Payment.