We are also posting new information as it comes to hand to our Facebook page and to Twitter and sending it out in our Information Exchange newsletter. (You can sign up to receive the Information Exchange and/or read our previous Information Exchanges.)
For general information about Covid-19 see the Government website covid19.govt.nz
We've also put together a few Q and A's about MOVING TO ALERT LEVEL 3
- Information in accessible formats (Easy Read and NZSL)
- Disability Support Services (Support work, equipment, modifications etc.)
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE - masks etc.)
- What Alert level 3/4 means for disabled people
Also go to Mental Health and Wellbeing for a series of videos about wellbeing
It is recommended that anyone with any of the following symptoms should get assessed:
-fever – this is when you are really hot and have a temperature of 38 degrees or more
-a cough that is new or one that has been getting worse over a few days.
-shortness of breath or finding it hard to breathe
-sore throat sneezing and runny nose temporary loss of smell.
These symptoms are like other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu.
Call your doctor if you are feeling unwell with any one of these symptoms.
You can also call Healthline on 0800 358 5453. This is free and you can call any time as it is open all day every day. Healthline also has access to interpreters if you need one.
Your doctor or Healthline will ask you questions about your symptoms, your general health, and your living situation. Depending on your symptoms and circumstances, you may or may not be tested for Covid-19.
If it is decided you should be tested, you will probably need to go to a special "Community Based Assessment Centre".
Some videos have been made showing what Community Based Assessment Centre's are like:
Pegasus Health video - Testing for Covid-19 at a Community Based Assessment Centre
Bay of Plenty DHB video - The Assessment Centre process
The Ministry of Health has provided more information for disabled people on getting tested for Covid-19, including more about what happens - visit the Ministry of Health website.
More at risk?
Some people are more likely to get very sick if they get Covid-19.
Health problems that make COVID-19 more dangerous include a weak immune system, liver disease, cancer, kidney disease, heart disease and diabetes mellitus, pregnant people or those on immunosuppressant medications.
If you have one of these health conditions you need to be extra careful to protect yourself against getting COVID-19. For example, during Alert Level 3 you may need to keep following the Alert Level 4 rules to keep yourself safe.
If you are not sure if you have one of these health conditions, or what activities outside the home might be safe for you given your individual health circumstances, you can call your GP or Healthline (0800 611 116) for advice.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Ministry of Health guidance now says that if someone is at higher risk of severe illness from Covid-19 and their support/care worker is unable to keep a distance of two metres, then the support worker should wear a mask. Gloves, aprons and eye protection are also recommended in some cases - see the Ministry of Health Guidelines for PPE (PDF)
Wearing PPE is an addition to regular hand hygiene and cough/sneeze etiquette which remain hugely important in keeping safe and protecting the health and safety of support workers and those they support.
Using PPE safely:
Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water. If you wear a mask, then you must know how to use it and dispose of it properly.
Te Pou o te Whakaaro Nui has put together a guide for using personal protective equipment (PPE), created specifically to help those working in NGOs in the areas of mental health, addiction and disability. The guide is available in various formats, including PDF, image and an accessible Word format.
Easy Read information about benefit payments (Word Doc)
The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) has made some temporary changes to document requirements as part of the COVID-19 response. The changes are helping to make things easier for people and ensure they continue to receive support during this time.
Here is an overview of some key changes they’ve made:
1.No medical certificate renewals for existing clients
People already getting Jobseeker Support, Sole Parent Support or Supported Living Payment don’t need to provide another medical certificate. They’ll continue to be paid as normal. This includes the Work Capacity Medical Certificate.
2. No medical certificates for new clients
For now, MSD won’t ask people to go get a medical certificate if they have no other reason to consult a health practitioner.
However, if someone already has a medical certificate, MSD will use this in their application.
When a person doesn’t have any of the usual medical verification (for example a Medical Certificate or Specialist reports), MSD will look at other options like granting an Emergency Benefit so they can still get support.
3. Temporary changes for Disability Allowance
People applying for the Disability Allowance for the first time, or an existing client with a new or increased costs, won’t need to provide receipts or invoices to verify these costs.
They also won’t need to provide a medical certificate to verify their eligibility and costs.
However the eligibility criteria for Disability Allowance haven’t changed so applications for items such as unfunded medications or services will need evidence of essential need to qualify for assistance.
4. Deferring reviews
For now, there will be no annual reviews (for example for Disability Allowance or Child Disability Allowance) or social housing reviews. This means if someone
would normally have a review, they won’t need to do anything – they’ll continue getting paid.
Even though WINZ offices have closed to the public, they still have teams working in every region to make sure clients continue to get support during this time. For the latest information go to the Work and Income website, www.workandincome.govt.nz
Contact Work and Income if you:
- would like assistance
- aren’t sure if you can get assistance
- are struggling to support yourself or your family
- would like more information.
Visit workandincome.govt.nz or phone 800 559 009
Civil Defence have set up 0800 numbers for people who need help getting the essentials you need to get through lockdown (such as food, medication or cleaning supplies)
This service is intended for people and whānau who don’t have any other options available to them.
The Student Volunteer Army are delivering groceries to people who are unable to get to the supermarket. So far this is only in Christchurch and Dunedin, but they are working hard to expand the service across Aotearoa.
See the SVA Grocery Delivery Service.
Foodbanks are also delivering food parcels. If you need a food parcel you can contact them. For more information go to the Foodbank website.
Countdown now has a priority service meaning that disabled people and people who are over 70 can get their shopping delivered quicker.
This is still very busy, but they are adding more delivery times.
If you need this priority service and don’t have a code you will be able to get one from any of the DPOs soon. DPA already has one we have sent to members. If you are disabled you can become a DPA member - sign upon our website and we will email you with the code.
Click and Collect
We are hearing from people in some regions that there are never any available slots when they try to shop online on Countdown.
Another option is "Click and Collect" - this means you order and pay for your shopping online and then someone picks it up at the supermarket. In some regions there appear to be many more slots available for this service than for online shopping with delivery.
To choose Click and Collect on the Countdown website, go to the green menu bar at the very top of the page and change "Delivery" to "Pick Up". Other supermarket chains also have this service.
If you have a support worker, they could pick up your shopping for you. You could also ask a trusted friend, family member or neighbour to pick up your shopping. They could drop the shopping at your door or gate, without coming into your bubble.
A webpage has been built that shows availability for click and collect across the week for all supermarkets in NZ. Go to clickandcollect.nz.
Directory of independent businesses delivering during lockdown
Delivereat is an online directory of more than 280 independent New Zealand businesses still delivering during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Easy Read - Look after your mental health during Coronavirus
It’s completely normal for people to be feeling a wide range of emotions including being worried, anxious, and scared. We are all in this together, and while we might not be able to be physically in touch right now, it’s important to stay connected in other ways- such as by phone and social media.
If you need to talk – call or text 1737 at anytime, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day to connect with a professional counsellor for free.
Do continue with any existing mental health treatment you are receiving if possible. Notice if your symptoms are getting worse. Talk to your GP, counsellor, caseworker or mental health team about how they can continue supporting you. Can your appointments take place over the phone, via email, text or video chat? What tips do they have to help you get through? Who can you call if you need help urgently?
The Mental Health Foundation have lots of tips that they are sharing daily on their Facebook page.
DPA are putting out a series of videos on mental health and wellbeing for disabled people. We are uploading these regularly to Facebook and will upload these here as they become available.
- Video one - Introduction
- Video two - Feel good
- Video three - What you can give
- Video four - Stick to a routine
- Video five - Choose your news and info carefully
- Video six - Find Ways to Relax
FOR PEOPLE WITH A LEARNING DISABILITY
People First NZ COVID-19 Helpline number - 0800 20 60 70
MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLBEING
Anxiety NZ - 0800 269 4389
Need to talk - 1737
Depression helpline - 0800 111 757
Supporting Families in mental illness - 0800 732 825
0800 What’s Up? - 0800 942 8787
Lifeline - 0800 543 354
Asian Family Services - 0800 862 342. (Counselling services in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, Thai and Hindi)
Parent Help - 0800 568 856
Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust NZ - 0800 472 637
Family Violence - 0800 456 450
Shine (Family Violence) - 0508 744 633
Shakti NZ (Women’s Refuge) - 0800 742 584
Women’s Refugee NZ - 0800 733 843
Rural Support Trust - 0800 787 254
Total Mobility trips will continue to be free for clients up to the regional fare subsidy cap while New Zealand is at Covid-19 alert levels 3 and 4, up until 30 June 2020.
This fare policy applies for any travel that is allowed under the current alert level restrictions.
For example, during Alert Level 3 if you are going back to work or school, accessing a local business or service that is now open, visiting someone who you have an extended bubble arrangement with, or attending a funeral, tangihanga or wedding ceremony, your Total Mobility trip will be free up to the regional fare subsidy cap.
This aligns with the similar Covid-19 fare-free public transport policy.
This subsidy will continue while New Zealand is at Covid-19 alert levels 3 and 4 up until 30 June, but may be reviewed before June 30 if the Covid-19 alert is reduced to levels 1 or 2.
For more information contact your regional Total Mobility provider.
(Last updated 12.5.20)
During all Covid-19 alert levels all essential services that we need to keep us living safely in our homes will keep going. The support you get might look different, but all essential services will still be provided.
The Ministry of Health (MoH) are regularly adding new information to their page for disabled people
CHANGES TO DISABILITY SUPPORT AT ALERT LEVEL 2
All services (disability and non-disability services) will need to follow the Alert Level 2 rules. This means that services will need to carefully and regularly clean surfaces that are touched often and keep detailed records of who uses the facilities and when for contact tracing.
Everyone who uses the service must practice good hand hygiene, cough or sneeze into their elbow or tissue that is put in a bin and follow physical distancing. In disability facilities, everyone should stay 1-metre apart where possible.
Facility staff should take extra care for people who are at high risk of becoming very unwell from COVID-19.
- Day services will open in a limited way
Day services can now open in a limited way following Alert Level 2 safety rules. They will need to follow physical distancing rules (1-metre apart), good hygiene measures and keep a record of people working at or attending the service for contact tracing.
Some of the day services might decide to allow some people to attend in the morning and others in the afternoon, or on alternate days. Your day service needs to work out how they can operate safely. Your day service will contact you to let you know when and how they are going to open safely.
If you always share transport with the same people to get to your day service, you do not need to keep 1-metre apart in your taxi or van. The taxi or van company will need to follow good cleaning and hygiene practices and keep a good record of who has been in the vehicle for contact tracing.
You will still need to stay at home if you are sick.
You should let your day service know if you do not want to attend. Your day service should continue to support you in different ways such as by video chat. Your day service will contact you to tell you what is going to happen.
- Respite facilities will open in a limited way
Facility-based respite centres are now open in a limited way following Alert Level 2 safety rules. This includes following physical distancing (1-metre apart) where possible, have good hygiene measures and keep a record for contact tracing.
Respite services will need to work out how they can operate safely. It is also important that they can give those families and whānau a break who need it most, some of whom might be in the ‘at-risk’ group.
You should contact your NASC for more information on what is available in your area.
- Carer Support
There are no changes for Carer Support under Alert Level 2 compared to Alert Levels 3 and 4. You can continue to pay family members who you live with to provide you with a break. Please note that this flexibility is for Carer Support paid through disability support services only (i.e. not through DHBs).
- Community residential services and residential services provided under the High and Complex Framework
Community residential services continue to operate under all alert levels. Under Alert Level 2, residential providers must follow the Alert Level 2 safety rules.
You do not need to physically distance from the people that you live with or support workers who have been part of your living arrangement (part of your bubble) during the different levels.
Support workers and residential providers should:
- follow guidelines for personal protective equipment (PPE), have good hand hygiene, cough or sneeze into their elbow or a tissue, and not come to work if they are sick or have been around someone who is sick
- where possible not provide care to lots of different people
- keep a record of the people they are in contact with, for contact tracing purposes.
Under Alert Level 2, you can visit with your family members and friends.
When people come to visit you in your residential home, they must follow good hand hygiene, and cough/sneeze etiquette and keep 1-metre apart from you if they are not family members or close friends. Your residential provider will let you know how they plan to manage visits safely. You should call or text your family member’s residential home first to let them know that you plan to visit so they can manage it safely.
Anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms, have been in contact with someone with COVID-19, or who are sick, must not visit.
You should decide who should visit you in your residential home, however, if there are other people who live in the home who are at high risk of becoming very unwell from COVID-19, you, your family and providers should all agree who can visit and how people can stay safe.
You should also be supported to access activities, in a safe way, such as going to your favourite café or shop (i.e. maintain 1-metre distance from other people, good hygiene, limits on the numbers of people gathering).
- People who employ their own support workers (individualised funding, personal budgets)
At Alert Level 2, you can continue to use your funding to buy things that you couldn’t before COVID-19. For example, you can pay for grocery delivery rather than pay a care or support worker to help you with shopping. These purchases must be within your allocation, and your budget needs to last for your whole allocation.
At Alert Level 2, you can also continue to employ family and whānau members who live with you, to support you, if your usual support worker is not available. If you decide to do this, you should talk to your IF host or coach, your connector or kaitūhono. More detailed guidance will be available from MoH soon.
You can apply to the Ministry of Social Development for funding if a support worker is unable to return to work because they:
• could be sick with COVID-19
• have had close contact with someone with COVID-19
• are at high risk of becoming very unwell from COVID-19.
This funding is called COVID-19 Leave Support. You can apply for this funding on the Work and Income website
You should agree with your support worker on whether you want to keep any physical distance between you. If you are at high risk of becoming very unwell from COVID-19 you should talk to your support worker about working safely with you. See the latest guidance about when you should use PPE. (PDF)
- Some NASC appointments will also resume
Needs Assessment and Service Coordination (NASC) services will continue to work over the phone or virtually where possible. You may have a NASC appointment in person where it can be done so safely. Your NASC will let you know how they will contact you.
CHANGES TO DISABILITY SUPPORT AT ALERT LEVEL 3
- One change is for people living in residential care facilities. During Alert Level 4, there were no visitors allowed because everyone had to stay in their bubble. During Alert Level 3 some visitors will be allowed in the extended bubble.
There can only be one person visiting at a time.
People with Covid-19, or suspected Covid-19 cannot visit.
Disabled people, families, whānau, aiga and disability providers need to discuss and agree together who can visit, and what everyone needs to do to keep that bubble safe. The extended bubble should not have too many people in it.
- Home management support (eg. house cleaning) that was stopped during Alert Level 4 may resume as a limited service depending on individual circumstances (eg. where not providing this service would place you at risk and the services can be provided safely).
- Support services for people with personal budgets, Individualised Funding and Enhanced Individualised Funding remain largely the same, including the increased flexibility to employ family members you live with to provide disability support to you (MoH purchasing guidelines). However, there is a change to how stand down leave is paid - see Alert Level 3 guidance for disabled people and whānau who employ their own support workers
- Day services and facility-based respite remain closed.
SERVICES AVAILABLE DURING ALERT LEVEL THREE AND FOUR
The services that will keep going during all alert levels are:
-Medicine supply and monitoring
-Home and Community Support Services,
-Some supported living
-Choice in Community Living
-Family Funded Carers (See Changes to Family Funded Care)
-Providers under the High and Complex Framework
-Respite Services in the home
-Needs Assessment Service Coordination agencies
-NZSL interpreters to enable to Deaf community to access information and services
-Equipment and Modification Services that are essential - including the provision and repair of essential disability equipment and communication equipment
SERVICES THAT ARE CLOSED DURING ALERT LEVEL THREE AND FOUR
Some services are closed. This is because it is more important that we don’t mix with other people through these services and spread the virus.
-Day services and facility-based respite
-Disability Information Advisory Services Offices (but you can still contact them about what they are able to offer at this time)
-Most Child Development Services
-Hearing and vision services
-Specialist training services
- and some behaviour support services. (Please note: this is only some - see section on behaviour support through Explore below)
-Vehicle modifications and non-essential home modifications will be put on hold for now.
If you want to know about your usual supports, talk to your service provider or your NASC.
During the COVID-19 response the Ministry of Health are increasing flexibility to employ family members you live with to provide disability support to you.
To help you understand what this means for you and your whānau, they’ve developed some questions and answers. These are now on the ministry website.
Due to the impact of COVID-19 and New Zealand moving into Alert Level 4 some of the changes to the Family funded care payments will be delayed. Read more about the changes to criteria and payments happening in April 2020.
See also the section above - Paying resident family carers.
- If you get support through a provider
If you have support though a service provider and your support worker doesn’t come to your house, please contact your provider. They can arrange for another person to provide your care.
If you have a family member within your bubble who you would like to provide your care, you can talk about this with your provider. If they agree, they can temporarily employ your family member to provide your support as part of their response to the Covid-19 situation.
If you are still without a support worker or care after talking with your provider, contact your local NASC.
- If you are on Individualised Funding
If you have Individualised Funding (IF) and employ your support worker, you will need to organise another person to provide your care. You will also need to ask your support worker why they are not coming to work. Options to consider:
-another support worker could provide your care
-if you have a flatmate or a family member in your bubble, who is able to provide your care, you can employ them on a casual contract. Remember to keep a record of when your support person didn’t come to work and why, as well as any hours worked casually by your new carer.
If you find you are unable to find a new support worker, please contact your IF Host, Connector or your Mana Whaikaha or Enabling Good Lives offices.
- What to do if you are still not happy?
If you are unhappy about something your provider or support worker has done, you can complain by contacting:
-the provider. During Alert Level 4, you can make your complaint over the phone, in writing or anonymously. The service provider must deal with your complaint. Sometimes providers can resolve issues straight away.
-the Ministry of Health – go to How to make a complaint to find out how to complain (including information in Easy Read)
-the Health and Disability Commissioner – go to the Health and Disability Commissioner website to find out how to complain.
Explore are now providing immediate wellbeing and behaviour support advice, support, risk assessment and safety planning to anyone eligible for disability support services through Disability NASC.
Disabled people, whânau and support workers can call Explore on 0800 000 421 between 8am- 8pm.
Explore will focus on the wellbeing of whānau and caregivers. Explore has expertise and experience in delivering practical advice and support to whānau, children, adults, support workers and organisations.
• Provide immediate wellbeing and support
• Suggest ways to respond to any challenging behaviours
• Discuss risks and safety planning
• Provide other tools and resources
Explore is also setting up webinars around a range of topics of concern and creating access to resources and materials to support this work.
You don't need a referral from a NASC to access these services, however you will need to tell Explore who your NASC is.
The TalkLink Trust has put together some COVD19 resources on their website.
They are offer:
-flexible prepaid broadband
-only $5.00 for 30GB of data
-no contracts or credit checks
-and a free modem
You can apply if you are one of the following:
-A person with disability
-A job seeker
-Living in social housing
-Families with children
-A refugee or migrant
Due to the current COVID-19 situation Jump is now only available in some areas, however where it is available you can get help to sign up over the phone.
You can find out whether it is available for you by entering your home address into their website. If it is available, a number to contact is provided.
To find out more visit: www.skinny.co.nz
Information in accessible formats is now available in one place on the Covid-19 website. This includes information in Easy Read, New Zealand Sign Language, large print, and audio.
The People First website also has updated messages in Easy Read:
New Zealand Sign Language
Up-to-date information about Covid-19 in NZSL is also on Deaf Aotearoa's Covid-19 page
Deafradio have also put together a new website CovidNZSL.info which brings together both news and information about Covid-19 for the Deaf community.
Human Rights - your rights and complaints
The Human Rights Commission has launched a dedicated Covid-19 website.
The website includes information about human rights in relation to the Covid-19 situation including: your general rights, information for people in detention, your rights when interacting with the police, employment rights, and information about family violence.
There is also an online form which provides a way for you to report any human rights issues or concerns.
Let us know your issues or concerns
Please contact us if you have any issues or concerns, or if you feel that you have been unfairly treated.
or phone (04) 801 9100 and leave a message - although we are not currently in the office, we are checking our phone messages regularly