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).
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.
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.
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.
Respite care requiring funding must be identified in the client financial plan to enable purchase orders to be created.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 pages 34 and 35 of the caregiver kete)
Staff resource: Social media guidelines
Caregiver kete (PDF 1.8MB)
- 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.