We modify our usual social work practice approach in the context of a measles outbreak to prevent the transmission of the virus.
Measles and immunisation

Page URL: https://practice.orangatamariki.govt.nz/our-work/care/caregivers/support-for-caregivers/how-to-access-respite-care-advice-assistance-and-a-support-person/
Printed: 14/06/2024
Printed pages may be out of date. Please check this information is current before using it in your practice.

Last updated: 10/04/2024

How to access respite care, advice, assistance and a support person

Caregivers need a good support network, advice and respite in order to provide safe, stable and loving homes. Planning for regular breaks, attending a support group or talking with someone who understands can provide invaluable benefits for a caregiver.

Update made to this guidance

This guidance has been updated to highlight access for caregivers to 20 days of paid respite care each year (their foster care allowance continues while te tamaiti or rangatahi is staying elsewhere).

Understanding what support is available

The assessment process will ensure the caregiver understands the support available to them, including respite care.

Policy: Caregiver support

Advice, assistance and respite can be provided in many formats – 4 of these are outlined below. The level of support required should be led by the caregiver.

1. The support team

The caregiver's own support networks are a core part of how they will function in the role on a day-to-day basis and manage through circumstances that may be challenging. This will be discussed thoroughly during the assessment process and incorporated into the caregiver support plan.

A caregiver's core support team will naturally consist of those people who the caregiver would go to first when they need extra help or support, such as whānau or family and close friends.

The next layer of support will be the caregiver social worker and the 24/7 call line.

Phone: 0508CARERS

The key support people will include those people involved in the education, health and social services support for te tamaiti or rangatahi. It also includes community support like the local church, kaumātua, waka ama, cultural groups and coaches.

2. The role of a support person

When we talk about the support person for the caregiver, this is likely to be the caregiver social worker or a care provider representative. However, a caregiver may require practical, emotional, cultural and advocacy support, which can come in all shapes and sizes. In the first instance, a caregiver may seek advice, respite and assistance from their support team. 

Support can also come from:

  • a whānau or family member
  • another person identified by the caregiver
  • a cultural provider
  • a specialist service provider or any other service whom the caregiver deems to be appropriate for them.

3. Respite support available

If the needs assessment of te tamaiti or rangatahi and/or the caregiver identifies a need for respite, this must be captured in the All About Me plan and caregiver support plan.

All About Me plan to meet the needs of tamariki

Caregiver support plan

Respite care should meet the needs of the caregiver and te tamaiti or rangatahi. The caregiver social worker should explore respite care options that support te tamaiti or rangatahi to maintain and strengthen whānau or family and whakapapa connections and a sense of belonging within their whānau or family.

Where needed, the caregiver social worker may use a respite caregiver or a short-term caregiver. Sometimes emergency respite care and/or agency support is required.

Types of care

Caregivers continue to receive their foster care allowance while accessing up to 20 days of respite care each year. Where respite care is assessed as being needed for more than 20 days, we may agree to continue paying the foster care allowance on a case-by-case basis. Respite care requiring funding must be identified in the client financial plan to enable purchase orders to be created.

Staff resource: Client financial plans

The family services directory identifies numerous respite care options that can be directly purchased through the site budget at the discretion of the CGRS manager and site managers.

Family services directory

Particular consideration needs to be given to the age and particular needs of te tamaiti or rangatahi when considering respite care. Wherever possible, care arrangements should be planned in advance to leave adequate time to prepare and support a safe care transition for te tamaiti or rangatahi to their respite care arrangement.

4. Childcare support available

Childcare is aimed at supporting a household to carry out its day-to-day routines, including undertaking leisure activities.

The caregiver social worker is encouraged to talk with the caregiver about using their support team for childcare if possible. Oranga Tamariki can provide further support through funding (or part funding) early childcare, before/after school care and holiday programmes.

If the needs assessment of te tamaiti or rangatahi and/or the caregiver identifies a requirement to provide childcare, this must be captured within the All About Me plan and caregiver support plan. Childcare requiring funding must be identified in the client financial plan to enable purchase orders to be created.

Babysitting and overnight stays: When children or young people are in care

Financial help

Staff resource: Caregiver support services catalogue (xlsx 62 KB)

How to access advice and guidance

As a caregiver social worker, your role is to understand the needs of the caregiver and support their needs as best you can.

The family services directory has a useful list of support services.

Family services directory

A peer group network can enable caregivers to feel supported by someone who understands the reality and daily challenges of the role first-hand. Having someone who has shared lived experience of providing care, empathy and understanding, and can share coping and stress management skills can help minimise stress and improve the caregiver's confidence. This will also help caregivers understand if this is part of an expected care situation or if additional advice may be warranted.

Each caregiver will have different needs, so it is important to understand from them what this looks like to ensure they participate in a group that is beneficial to them.  

When considering facilitating peer support groups, it's important to bear in mind the privacy and sensitivity elements surrounding the tamariki and rangatahi, particularly within social media settings.

Caregiver peer support

Additional support could include:

  • closed Facebook groups – a great way for caregivers to stay connected to each other, ask questions and share experiences, and it also provides the opportunity for people who live in a rural area to feel less isolated (see the social media guidelines for more information and refer caregivers to page 29 of the caregiver kete)
    Staff resource: Social media guidelines
    Caregiver kete (PDF 1.8 MB) | orangatamariki.govt.nz
  • community support groups, such as iwi, parenting or play groups
  • Caring Families Aotearoa advisory roles – for example, for counselling and advocacy
  • Caring Families Aotearoa peer support discussion groups, covering various topics such as fetal alcohol syndrome disorder
  • EAP support, offering independent caregiver counselling
  • regional hui at various locations, to meet professionals and other caregivers
  • membership to Caring Families Aotearoa and Grandparents Raising Grandchildren – providing independent support for caregivers and facilitating connections with other caregivers.