Taking care of yourself - A Guide for Carers

When you spend time caring for someone else it’s important to take care of yourself too. Looking after your physical and emotional health will help improve your wellbeing and reduce chances of becoming stressed and isolated.

Getting out and keeping healthy

The time you spend caring may make it hard for you to have time for yourself. Making sure you take time out for yourself, even if it’s for a few hours a week, can make a big difference. Spending that time catching up with friends and family, relaxing and practising mindfulness, getting outside into nature, and doing other activities you enjoy can be great for your wellbeing.

The Carers NZ website has resources online to support your wellbeing, including:

  • Time Out Guide – A self-care and respite planning guide
  • Are you caring for an older family member or friend? – A wellbeing resource for carers of older people
  • Are you a young carer? – Information and wellbeing advice for children and young people in caring roles.

Visit to view, or to order print copies of these resources call 0800 777 797.

Resources for carer learning and wellbeing

Care Matters

Care Matters is an organisation aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of carers of disabled people, family and whānau, and disabled people by providing accessible learning information. Care Matters provides information and resources to improve the relationship between carers and the people they care for and increase the confidence and self-esteem of carers.

Care Matters provides online information and resources, has a free phone service for carers and holds face-to-face events like workshops. Workshops are tailored to local carers’ needs, occur throughout New Zealand and are free to attend.

To find out more:

Talking to someone about your caring role

If you’re feeling worried or anxious, talking to someone about your situation can help. You may want to talk to family, friends, neighbours, or other carers through a carer support group.

It’s normal for people to get stressed at different stages in life. This can particularly be the case when your caring role changes, whether you’re new to a caring role and don’t know about the different help available, or the person you’re caring for has increased caring needs.

If you’re finding your thoughts and emotions too much, ask for extra help. Some options are to call:

  • Lifeline 0800 543 354
  • Youthline 0800 376 633
  • Healthline 0800 611 116
  • the Depression Helpline 0800 111 757
  • the Alcohol Drug Helpline 0800 787 797
  • the Gambling Helpline 0800 654 655

You can also visit:

  • for a regionalised database of publicly funded addiction treatment and advice services throughout New Zealand
  • - Yellow Brick Road is for families of people who have a mental health disorder.

Help if you or the person you care for is affected by mental illness

If you or the person you’re caring for is affected by mental illness, it is important to seek help and address the issues before they become any worse.

Who to contact if you or the person you care for is affected by mental illness

  • Call your general practitioner.
  • If you already receive services from DHB mental health and addiction services, contact your DHB case manager if you think your need for support services has changed.
  • Contact the nearest NASC organisation which will be able to help identify mental health needs and advise on available support services.
  • Seeing a counsellor or going to a support group may be an option for you or the person you care for too.

For more information, visit the Mental health services page on the Ministry of Health website.

For information on finding a GP, counsellor or support group visit the Find a GP or counsellor or Support groups page on the Mental Health Foundation website.

You can also visit the Where to find help and support page on the Health and Disability Commissioner website.

Contacts in times of mental health crisis

If you or someone you know has reached a mental health crisis point which requires urgent action, you should contact:

  • your local mental health crisis service. To find the phone number for your local service, visit and search Crisis assessment teams, or go to the front of your phone book and see ‘Hospitals & other health service providers’
  • your local hospital emergency department
  • emergency services on 111 and ask for help depending on your situation.

Dealing with abuse or neglect

If you, or the person you’re caring for are at risk of, or experiencing any form of abuse or neglect:

  • visit, which has links to family violence support services
  • call the emergency services on 111 if there is immediate danger.

If you want to change your own behaviour, call the ‘It’s Not OK’ information line on 0800 456 450 or visit

If you or the person you care for has experienced sexual abuse or assault, ACC can provide counselling support. ACC has a specialist team to support people with sexual abuse and assault. Your doctor can help you make a claim.

To get help:

Staying injury free

Caring for someone can involve helping them to move. Common injuries for carers include back strain from lifting and falls from slipping on wet floors.

Injuries to people being cared for are often the result of being dropped, or bedsores (the same as pressure injuries or pressure sores) from a lack of movement. For information on bedsores and how to prevent them, visit the Worldwide Stop Pressure Injury Day page on the New Zealand Wound Care Society webpage.

For information on preventing injuries, visit and search Supporting people to move at home.

Reducing the risk of falls

You can prevent or reduce the risk of falls by identifying and removing hazards around the home and improving the health and fitness of the person you’re caring for.

For more information on avoiding falls around the home visit the Staying safe in your home page on the ACC website.

For information and resources for carers of someone 65 or over, visit the Live Stronger for Longer website at

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