Carers' Strategy Action Paln cover

Engagement for the New Zealand Carers’ Strategy Action Plan 2019–2023

Do you support a friend or family member who needs help with everyday living because of a health condition, injury, frailty or disability? If so, we want to hear about your experience, what works, what doesn’t, and what would assist you in this role.

You may not see yourself as a ‘carer’ as it may just be part of what you, or your family/whānau do. Carer is just the term we use to describe the diversity of individuals, families, whānau who provide support.

Why do we want to hear from you, your family/whānau?

We are going to develop a new Carers’ Strategy Action Plan to support people who are supporting a friend or family/whānau member with their everyday living. The current Action Plan expires at the end of 2018.

Hearing about your experience will make sure that we are aware of how the caring role affects you and what would make your life better. The role that families and whānau provide in New Zealand is important, and the government is committed to recognising and supporting this contribution.

How can you share your experience?

During October 2018 we will be talking to different groups of people to learn about their experiences. We are also carrying out an online survey.

This will enable you and/or your family and whānau to tell us about your experience as a carer and how this impacts on your life and wellbeing, and what you think would make a difference. This information will be used to help inform and design actions government can take to help.

The survey will be open until 31 October 2018.

We will be carrying out wider public consultation on the new Action Plan in early 2019. This will be another chance to have your say on what government can do to support carers.

What have we heard?

There are over 430,000 New Zealanders who provide support to a friend, or member of their family/whānau, because of a health condition, injury, or disability. This group is diverse and includes all ages, ethnic groups, and a wide range of needs for care from mental health conditions, addictions, disability, injury, and aged-related assistance. The common feature however, is that people provide this support because they have a previous relationship with that person. It may be provided out of love, duty, or a desire to help someone you personally care about.

Thanks to previous engagement, working with non-government organisations, and previous reports we are already aware of some of the issues for carers and their family/whānau. Some of the things we know are:

  • Being able to take a break is important, but accessing flexible respite care services is still difficult for many
  • A care role can have impacts on a wide range of areas including, health (mental and physical), social connections, finances, employment, education, culture and more – but supports/services often don’t focus on the needs of carers
  • Support systems are complex, and can be hard to navigate – accessing supports can depend on the carer’s supporting role, culture, location, existing knowledge, and the age and needs of the care recipient
  • Culturally appropriate and responsive information, advice, and services can be difficult to find
  • People do not always see themselves as ‘carers’, it’s just something they do, and may not be aware that services and supports are available to help.

These recognised issues and the previous Action Plans will be part of the development of the new Action Plan, but we also realise there is more that can be done.

We know that providing care is different for everyone, and can depend on your age, culture, where you live, the needs of the person you care for, and your family circumstance. This also means that what you need to support you to provide care may not be the same as everyone else. To make sure the new Action Plan makes a real difference we are keen to hear about a wide range of experiences - the bad and the good.

In order to achieve this we are starting with a focus on wellbeing.

This includes things like health, education, employment, money, as well as social connections and people’s goals and ambitions. We want to know how the experience of care impacts on you as an individual, and if appropriate, your family/whānau.

A commitment to caregiving can have a marked impact on the life of the carer and their family/whānau. This includes poorer mental and physical health, loss of social connectedness, negative impacts on financial circumstances and paid employment, and concerns about the future of the person being cared for. Caregiving can have positive impacts, and we are keen to know what these are so that the Action Plan can recognise and support all aspects of providing care.

What is the Carers Strategy?

The New Zealand Carers’ Strategy (the Strategy) was launched in 2008, in partnership between government agencies and the New Zealand Carers Alliance, to improve support for individuals, families, whānau, and carers who assist friends and family who need help with everyday living because of a health conditions, injury, or disability. The contribution made by people who provide this support represents significant economic and social value to New Zealand society. The Strategy is part of the Government’s commitment to recognising this contribution and supporting the people who provide it.

The Strategy outlines a vision that:

“New Zealand Aotearoa is a society that values individuals, families, whānau or aiga who support others who need help with their everyday living”, which 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.

In order to achieve the vision of the Strategy the government develops Action Plans, these plans set out the actions that government agencies will carry out (along with non‑government partners) over a five year period. They represent a government commitment to practical actions to support individuals, families and whānau.

With the current Action Plan 2014–2018 due to expire, we are now in the process of developing the Carers’ Strategy Action Plan 2019–2023 (the new Action Plan).

Where can you get support now?

  • MyCare: Online matching service that aims to find carers access to respite carers
  • A Guide for Carers: this guide provides information on supports, financial and non-financial available to carers and how to access them
  • CarersNZ website: provides a hub for ideas, guidance, learning and support. This includes things like “Find Services and Support” tool, and a Time Out Guide
  • CareMatters: provides a National Carer Learning and Wellbeing Resource Service with online resources, face-to-face workshop information, and care planning.