Carers' Strategy Action Paln cover

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

Initial engagement for the New Zealand Carers’ Strategy Action Plan 2019–2023 is now complete

Thank you to everyone who took part in one of our workshops or who filled in the online survey. Sharing your stories and experiences has helped us to better understand what it is like to be a carer in New Zealand. We will use this information to inform the design of the new Action Plan, so that it focuses on what matters most.

What is next for the Action Plan?

Over the next few months we will be using the information that carers have provided us to develop a draft Action Plan. Once we have a draft, you will have another opportunity to have a say during the consultation process on the draft Action Plan. This allows you to tell us whether we have got it right or whether there is something we are missing. We expect this consultation process to begin in early – mid 2019.

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 already have a relationship with that person. It may be provided out of love, duty, or a desire to help someone you personally care about.

As a result of responses to our recent survey, engagement with carers and providers and working with non-government organisations, we are 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 person receiving care.
  • 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 issues and the previous Action Plans will be considered when we develop 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.

In developing a new Action Plan we are starting with a focus on wellbeing. This includes things like people’s health, education, employment, money, as well as social connections and people’s goals and ambitions.

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 the Action Plan will 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 with 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.

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.

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.