The principle of Carer Support is to provide full time Carers with time to themselves as a break from their full time Carer role. This can mean reimbursement of some of the costs of engaging a support person to care and support a disabled person or purchases which provide the disabled person with self-directed entertainment/activities.
Carer Support for disabled people is funded by Whaikaha - Ministry of Disabled People.
On this page
- What is Carer Support?
- Who can get Carer Support?
- How you can use Carer Support funds?
- How do you get a form?
- How can you make a claim?
- How long does a claim take to process?
- Tips for filling in your form correctly
- Tax Issues
Carer Support is a subsidy that helps you take some time out for yourself. It provides reimbursement for some of the costs of care and support for a disabled person while you have a break. Once assessed, your Carer Support allocation will be given to you in a number of days.
Carer Support is available for ‘full-time Carers’ – as mentioned in our Who is a Carer section of our website. A full time Carer is the person who provides more than 4 hours per day unpaid care to a disabled person, for example, the parent of a disabled child.
The number of hours or days that Carer Support is funded for depends on your needs and those of the person you care for. This is assessed by your Needs Assessment Service Coordinator (NASC).
You can use your Carer Support as a contribution towards paying a support worker to look after your loved one. You can also look to use your Carer Support to fund purchases which allow you to take a break by, for example, entertaining your disabled person. This was originally in response to the ongoing pressure Covid-19 put on full time Carers and will be ongoing.
You can now also use your Carer Support as a total budget, and not just as your budget per allocated day. What this means is you can now take the amount of days you are allocated funding, times the daily amount to figure out your total Carer Support budget. For example, Lisa is allocated 28 days at a rate of $80 per day. Lisa's total Carer Support budget is therefore 28 x 80 = $2,240.
The claiming process for Carer Support has not changed so please claim as usual, using dates of care and costs, or costs of items with receipts attached.
What can you claim for?
There is often some confusion around what you can claim for, but here's some guidance on that.
Carer Support funding is governed by the same purchasing rules as Individualised Funding (IF) / Enhanced Individualised Funding (EIF). These can be found on our Purchasing Guidelines page. Understanding these rules will help you make the most out of your Carer Support funding and minimise frustrations when making a claim.
Flexibility and person-led choice is key to Carer Support, so when making a claim or thinking of using your Carer Support funds you should first consider "is this purchase offering the full time Carer a break?"
What you cannot use your Carer Support for
- illegal activities, gambling or alcohol; or
- to pay for things that are not disability supports like rent/mortgage, food, personal debt, gifts, power, regular household items etc.
What if you have made a purchase?
If you have bought something to give you a break instead of paying a support worker, you do not need a signature from a support worker on your Carer Support forms. In the hours section of the Carer Support form you need to write the item purchased and the cost.
Working out the impact of the purchase on your total allocation is a good idea. This means working out the budget you have with all your Carer Support days added up, for example, $80 allocated per day for 28 days = $2,240 for the year, and then evaluating the cost of the purchase on this total amount.
You will also need to provide an invoice/receipt. The amount of the purchase must fall within your allocation. All claims must be sent in within 90 days of the date of care.
Full-time Carers will receive a claim form in the post
- when a new allocation of Carer Support has been made or
- where a claim form for Carer Support has been processed and paid, a new claim form is sent out with your remaining Carer Support allocation.
If you don't have a current form, you can download them here:
The Ministry of Health is our partner who fulfills claims processing. There are a couple of ways of doing this:
- By email: Carer Support forms can be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. To do this, you can either download the form to your desktop or print out the form, and fill it in accurately and sign it. Electronic signatures are currently accepted if you do the form electronically. If you print it out you will need to scan it back or take a photo of it on your phone and attach this to an email. If you do not have a scanner at home, your local library can help you with this or you can take a photo on your phone as along as all the forms details are clear. The benefit of sending us your form via email is that we will receive it quicker and begin the processing.
- By post: Print out the form, or use the form we have sent to you, fill in all the relevant fields before addressing with our reply paid address and post. If you have additional paperwork to put with your claim, we suggest you use an envelope. There is no need to put a stamp on it.
Processing time can varying depending on the volume of claims received however a correctly filled in form should take 10 working days to process from the time it is received. See our tips below to ensuring your claim can be processed easily by our team.
When submitting your form, its a good idea to understand how to do it correctly so that it gets approved the first time. The below tips have been put together after we looked at the most common reoccurring issues we've seen when people email in their claim forms.
- Make sure your images aren't blurry. And make sure all the form is included in the photo/scan - we often get images with the bottoms cut off.
- The claim form needs to be signed and dated. We need both.
- Make sure you provide support carer information.
- Make sure you provide identifying information. Your client name, ID and full time carer name.
- In the subject header of your email (not just on the form) you need to provide your client information (carer name and/or ID). For example, if you are sending in a bank account verification we need to understand which client this account is relevant for. Please don't assume just your email address is ok.
- Please make sure you send everything together in one email. This means the claim form and any supporting documentation needs to be sent in one email. Multiple emails adds time.
- One file format is ideal. Sometimes we receive in one email jpegs, word docs and pdfs. This adds to the time we need to process. Our preference is pdf.
- There is only one email address to send your claim to, email@example.com
- If you are mailing in your claim form with receipts or other support documentation, its a good idea to put it in an envelope so it doesn't get lost. You just write our postage paid details on it. No stamp required.
Making sure you have considered all these things make our ability to enable payments easier and quicker.
Sometimes its helpful to see how other people have used their Carer Support funding. These examples have been based on real life claims.
Example one: Lily and Liam
Lily has an allocation of Carer Support for her son Liam who is 15 years old and has a learning disability. Liam is very keen on engines and in particular tractor engines. Lily has contacted a local farmer who has agreed to spend a day teaching Liam all about engines. Lily is going to use her Carer Support to buy a small set of tools for Liam to take on his visits and also pays a contribution to the mileage costs. While Liam is with the farmer, Lily spends time reading and turns her phone off and enjoys the break.
- Helps achieve an outcome
- Included in the plan
- Within the purpose of the allocation
Example two: Tui and Mike
Tui lives with his partner (Mike) of 15 years. Tui is the primary carer for their autistic twins who are 10 years old. As a whānau they receive Carer Support, which they use for a break every month at an Air BnB. They drop the twins off at their Aunty’s place which is accessible for the twins. Tui and Mike then go fishing and catch up on some sleep. They use their Carer Support to pay for the Air BnB and also pay a contribution to Aunty for having the boys to stay. All other costs (meals and mileage) are met by Tui and Mike.
- achieves some socialising outcomes for the boys
- provides the primary carer with a break
- builds relationships
- accessible and familiar
Example three: Moira and Kathleen
Moira, who is the primary carer for her niece Kathleen, has purchased a 6 month swim pass for the local pool using her Carer Support. There is a social group that meets there each week and all the kids get together to make use of the pools. This gives Moira a chance to connect with other adults and Kathleen gets to build some friendships. All the kids are learning sign language so they can talk with Kathleen more and she doesn’t need Moira to be be interpreting all the time.
People paid to care for your disabled loved one using Carer Support may have tax implications as this will be treated as part of their overall income. This will depend on their individual circumstances. You may wish to seek advice regarding tax issues from the Inland Revenue Department or, if you receive a benefit, from Work and Income New Zealand.