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Source: New Zealand Government

Changes to the Carer Support Subsidy announced today more appropriately recognise carers’ important work and will improve the lives of those they care for, Minister of Health Hon Dr Ayesha Verrall announced today.

From 1 July, Te Whatu Ora will increase the daily rate of the subsidy and widen the options for how it can be used to support the work of the main carer.

“This is expected to have positive impacts for more than 14,000 existing carers. Full-time carers, or those looking after someone for four hours or more a day, will be able to use the subsidy to take a break from their stressful work, reducing the risk of career stress and burnout,” Ayesha Verrall said.

Under the changes, the daily rate of the Carer Support Subsidy lifts from $64.50 in some regions to a minimum of $80 per day nationwide.

Previously, carers could only claim one day’s worth of their annual allocation of the subsidy at a time. Now they will be able to claim for multiple days’ worth at once. In order to take a break, they will also be able to use the subsidy to compensate others living in the same household to provide respite or pay an external respite service.

“It will improve access to care options such as day programmes for respite for those in our community who cannot afford to privately ‘top-up’ the current daily allocation of carers’ support,” Ayesha Verrall said.

Carers will also be able to use their allocation to buy items that support their work. This might include a weighted blanket for someone living with anxiety or home monitoring device to support the care of someone living with dementia.

The range of changes marks a move away from the inconsistency of multiple different rates across the country, correcting inconsistencies in funding between Te Whatu Ora and other agencies, including Whaikaha – the Ministry of Disabled People. And it shows the benefit of having one agency running the health system instead of 20 DHBs. 

Previously 14 of the 20 districts paid $64.50 as the daily support rate. That has now been lifted by a minimum of $15.50 to reduce inequities around the country. 

“Increasing the subsidy will also enable more people to be cared for in their communities and therefore reduce unnecessary hospital admissions among some of the most vulnerable members of our community and help alleviate pressure on the health system,” said Ayesha Verrall.  

The changes are being welcomed by advocates, including Carers New Zealand.

They are funded by $2.25 million allocated from Budget 22.

The Carer Support Subsidy is accessed by having a needs assessment from a Te Whatu Ora Needs Assessment Service Coordination (NASC) service and your GP, mental health clinician or specialist may also be able to support you to access the subsidy.