Ngā ratonga tautoko ā-kāinga Home support services for older people and others

Older people, those with chronic health conditions, or people with mental health or addiction issues, may be able to get funded support at home.

Types of support services

Support services can help you to:

  • maintain your independence and quality of life
  • stay in your own home for as long as you can
  • participate in your community.

They may include:

  • personal care — such as getting out of bed, showering, dressing, or taking medicines
  • household support — such as cleaning or meal preparation
  • carer support — help for the person who lives with you or looks after you for 4 hours or more each dayequipment to help with your safety at home.

Home support service suppliers

Contracted professional organisations can provide home support services. This support can be funded by:

  • Whaikaha — Ministry of Disabled People
  • Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora
  • Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).

Support service organisations are also called ‘providers’.

Some people can also choose to have a whānau or family member as their paid carer.

Who can get home support services

A person can receive support services if:

  • they are eligible for publicly funded health and disability services
  • their needs are assessed by a Health New Zealand Needs Assessment Services Co-ordination agency as requiring a support package funded by Health New Zealand.

Paid care will not be funded by Health New Zealand if you are:

  • are in long-term residential care
  • are eligible for Whaikaha Disability Support Services (DSS) funding (unless the person has a Health New Zealand/Whaikaha dual funded package of care)
  • need care for an injury covered by ACC.

Getting a needs assessment

The first step is to have your needs assessed by a Needs Assessment Services Co-ordination agency on behalf of Te Whatu Ora, to see if you are eligible for home support services.

You can be referred for a needs assessment by a health professional, or you can refer yourself.

Find your nearest assessment agency on the Needs Assessment and Service Co-ordination Association website.

Needs Assessment and Service Co-ordination Association (external link)

Anyone receiving home support services has rights under the Code of Health and Disability Consumers’ Rights 1996.

Your rights — Health and Disability Commissioner website (external link).

Paid whānau and family care

After a needs assessment is carried out, the person receiving care can choose to have a whānau or family member, or an external carer provide this care. The carer can then be employed by a Home and Community Support Service provider to deliver the agreed services.

This range of caregiver options gives more choice to people who want to stay in their home and community, but need support services to do so. It means that caregivers who provide support for family members can be compensated for their time and effort.

A whānau or family member can become a paid carer if they are:

  • 16 years or over
  • physically able to perform the necessary tasks
  • available to attend to the person according to their care plan.

Whānau carers employment

There are several benefits from having your whānau or family carer employed by a home support provider. For example, the provider will:

  • provide training and support for your carer, so they deliver your care in a way that is safe for both of you
  • arrange payment, sick leave and annual leave for your carer
  • arrange alternative support for you, if your carer is sick or on leave.

Some Te Whatu Ora Needs Assessment Services Co-ordination agencies offer Individualised Funding, where the care needs are managed by the client with the support of an Individualised Funding host. You can discuss the options for paid care once you have been assessed.

If a whānau or family carer is getting paid, this may affect other payments they receive, such as jobseeker support. This should be discussed with Work and Income service centre.

Work and Income (external link)

If you want to switch to have a whānau carer

People who already receive home support services from a provider can switch to having a whānau or family member paid to provide their care as long as both parties meet the criteria. We recommend that you speak with your home support provider to discuss the process.

When your service starts

When your home support service starts, the provider will give you an information package. It includes:

  • contact details for the home support organisation
  • information about the services that the organisation can provide
  • how you can raise a concern or make a complaint.

You will also receive an agreement that explains exactly how the organisation will support you. You will work with them to develop a home support plan that is right for you.

Home support plan

A home support plan outlines the support you will get and the goals you can work towards to maintain or improve your independence.

Having an agreed home support plan helps everyone understand what kind of home support you will get. It also helps avoid problems like a support worker not agreeing something and they refuse.

Include your preferences in your home support plan. For example, the time of day you would like the home support worker to visit you, or your choice of support worker.

Update your plan once a year or if your needs change. Even if you only need home support services for a very short time, you should still develop a home support plan with your organisation.

Involve family in your home support plan

Ask your family, whānau, aiga and friends to be involved in developing your home support plan. This is especially important if you have issues with memory or confusion.

Sometimes your whānau will be the first to notice if your support needs change. Your home support organisation needs told about your new needs as soon as possible.

You can include family, whānau, aiga and friends in your home support services by asking them to:

  • be involved when any assessments and plans are completed or reviewed
  • provide feedback about the services you are receiving, using the organisation’s complaints and compliments system
  • act as your advocate if you want them to.

Improve home support services

Home support services are different from other health and disability services because support workers come into your home, often without supervision.

There is a high level of trust between you, the organisation, and the workers that they provide the right service to support you.

Unless you tell the organisation the home support organisation cannot know what to improve. They can only rely on their workers’ feedback.

Help the organisation know about problems or ways to improve the services they provide. You can:

  • do a home support organisation’s client satisfaction survey
  • talk with your organisation when you have your annual review
  • give feedback through the organisation’s complaints and compliments system
  • contact an advocacy or consumer representative group.

Advocacy groups include:

  • Health and Disability Advocacy Service
  • Age Concern
  • Grey Power
  • Carers New Zealand
  • Alzheimers New Zealand
  • Deaf Aotearoa New Zealand.

Your home support organisation will use your feedback to look work out how they can improve their systems and processes.

More information

Carers NZ

The Carers NZ website has more information, advice, and support for carers in our network. You can also email us at

Last updated: