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Taking a break from caring (respite) - A Guide for Carers

This section covers help that is funded by the Ministry of Health DHBs and ACC to help you have a break from your caring role.

It’s important for carers to plan regular breaks and time out. Having a break gives you the chance to ‘recharge your batteries’ and follow your own interests. The person you care for may benefit from a break too.

Visit carers.net.nz to download a free copy of the Time Out Guide, a guide to help carers plan and organise respite breaks. The Carers NZ site includes other respite planning tools you may find helpful.

Taking planned breaks

There are several options available to help you take breaks, including:

  • asking friends and family to spend time with the person you care for while you take a break
  • employing a support worker to spend time with the person you care for
  • paying for the person you care for to do an activity or programme that they enjoy
  • having an overnight break while the person you care for stays with a friend, family member, support worker or an organisation or facility with skills in caring for people with disabilities.

The type of respite you might get depends on your needs and the needs of the person you care for and what is available in your area. Your break might be for a short period (half a day, or overnight) or for several weeks depending on your situation.

Respite supports or services are allocated by NASCs and funded by the Ministry of Health (for disability support) and DHBs (for aged care, mental health and addiction and long-term chronic health conditions). Examples include the Carer Support Subsidy and Individualised Funding – Respite (for disabled people).

How to find your relevant NASC organisation.

If the person you care for is injured, ACC also provides funding for respite, see Taking a break from caring.

Carer Support Subsidy

The Carer Support Subsidy reimburses some of the costs of supporting the person you care for and is intended to help you take time for yourself.

Carer Support is for people with

  • age-related support needs, mental health and long-term medical conditions, funded by DHBs
  • disabilities, funded by the Ministry of Health.

You must be a full-time carer to receive the Carer Support Subsidy, providing more than 4 hours a day of unpaid care, e.g. as the parent of a disabled child.

Usually, you’re given a certain number of days a year through an assessment process by the NASC, depending on your needs and those of the person you care for. You choose how you want to take a break and pay for it with the subsidy. You will usually have to pay a ‘top-up’ for the service.

Carer Support can be paid to

  • friends and some family members
  • neighbours or other people who provide relief care
  • formal services (e.g. a rest home or holiday programme).

Individualised Funding – Respite for disabled people

Individualised funding (IF) may be available for someone you care for who needs support because of a disability. IF gives the disabled person greater choice and control around how they manage their supports. A NASC assessment will determine what supports they need and whether IF is right for them.

A disabled person can use IF to buy respite support. Respite can be provided through support workers in the person’s home or other options which will let you, as the carer, have a break. This can include out-of-home respite where the person stays with a host family, in a facility or takes part in an after school or holiday programme. IF cannot be used to pay parents and spouses for respite care.

How to find your relevant NASC organisation.

Help finding a relief carer

MYCARE is New Zealand’s largest online community of people seeking or offering home and community support. To pay for your support, you can use private funding or funding made available to you by ACC or the Ministry of Social Development. You can also use Health and Disability Support funding such as Individualised Funding, Enabling Good Lives and Individualised Funding Respite.

To find out more:

Taking a planned break from caring for someone covered by ACC

ACC can make arrangements to look after the injured person if you want to take a break from caring. These arrangements include carers from another agency coming to care for the injured person while you’re away or the injured person moving into a residential respite care facility.

Taking unplanned breaks

Breaks can be planned for or happen because of something unexpected. You might have to take a break because of an emergency or in a time of crisis. It’s useful to have a family emergency plan so you know who to call and how to get support. Carers NZ has free tools to help you. Visit the Emergency care planning tools page on the Carers NZ website.

Unplanned breaks when caring for someone covered by ACC

In case of an emergency where you are no longer able to care because of illness or unforeseen circumstances, backup care from an agency is available. The person you’re caring for needs to arrange this with ACC. If the person you care for has an ACC case owner, they can help develop a plan in case alternative care is needed, and can help to put alternative care arrangements in place.

If the person you care for wants you to act on their behalf, more information is available the Giving someone authority to act on your behalf page on the ACC website. This means that you can organise support on their behalf, including emergency support.


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