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Printed: 06/12/2023
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Last updated: 02/08/2019

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

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

Upcoming changes for this guidance

This content will be strengthened so it more completely reflects our commitment to practice framed by te Tiriti o Waitangi, based on a mana-enhancing paradigm for practice, and drawing from ​Te Ao Māori principles of oranga to support mana tamaiti, whakapapa and whanaungatanga. We each need to consider how we can apply these principles to our practice when reading this guidance. The following resources provide support:
Practice for working effectively with Māori
Our practice approach

Understanding what support is available

The assessment process will ensure the caregiver understands the support available to them, including respite care. The caregiver support policy notes that support may include access to a support person (including access to an alternative support person when the primary support person is unavailable).

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 family or 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

The purpose of respite is to provide time-out to enable a caregiver to genuinely recharge, to support them to continue to provide the best care. It’s likely to be of a longer duration than childcare.

If the needs assessment of te tamaiti and/or the caregiver identifies a requirement to provide 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

The caregiver social worker is encouraged to talk with the caregiver about taking time-out and using their support team for respite if possible.

Where the caregiver can’t rely on their immediate support network, the caregiver social worker may utilise the services of a respite caregiver or a short-term caregiver (was known as a transitional caregiver). Sometimes emergency respite care and/or agency support is required. In these situations, the caregiver social worker may purchase respite care.

Types of care

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 when considering respite care. Wherever possible, care arrangements should be planned in advance to leave adequate time to prepare te tamaiti to enable the care arrangements to be predictable.

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 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 62KB)

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 understands the role and can provide a listening ear when required 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, particularly within social media settings.

Caregiver peer support

Additional support could include:

  • 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.