Helpful information for carers

The information on this page has been brought together to make it easier for carers to find the support and advice they need during the COVID-19 response. The information includes links to useful material available for the general public.

We will update this resource as required and work with other government agencies, Carers NZ and the Carers Alliance, service providers and other partners to keep you informed. Things do change, so please regularly check the following government COVID-19 resource sites:

If you do not have internet access to check on the latest news, please use the radio, TV and toll-free phone numbers such as:

COVID-19 vaccinations

Vaccination against COVID-19 is very important. A person who is vaccinated, especially following the third (booster) dose, is much less likely to be severely sick, hospitalised or die. Vaccination also protects people against becoming infected and spreading the virus to others. This is important for carers and the people you support.

Vaccine mandates for health and care workers have ended. However, some employers may still require workers to be vaccinated due to their responsibilities under health and safety legislation.

Carers and support workers who are employed or engaged to carry out work that includes going to the home or place of residence of another person to provide care and support services funded by a Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora district must meet the contractual and vaccination requirements as outlined in the relevant district where applicable.

While carers who are paid to provide support in their own home are not required to be vaccinated, vaccination against COVID-19 is still strongly encouraged to protect carers and the people they support.

Find out more about vaccinations

Masks help to protect

Wearing face masks helps to reduce infection and spread of COVID-19. Masks are recommended when visiting healthcare settings. They are also strongly encouraged when indoors in closed, crowded and confined spaces such as public transport. 

See Wearing a face mask - for further information.  

People can choose to wear a mask whenever they want to increase their safety and confidence. You have the option of wearing a mask when providing care for someone who is vulnerable to COVID-19 to provide additional protection for them. 

People with a disability or a health condition which makes it difficult to wear a mask or face covering are not expected to put one on. 

Advice for people who have difficulties wearing a face mask. 

Be prepared and make a plan

Being prepared and making a plan is important if you, the person that you care, or someone in your or their family, whānau, āiga or household gets COVID-19. Planning is important whether you are up-to-date with your COVID-19 vaccinations or not.

You can find out if there is a risk of more severe illness from COVID-19 if you or the people you support have a medical condition or disability. Your primary care provider will prioritise vulnerable people for initial assessment, any follow-up on how best for carers and the people you support to stay healthy and protected.

In any case, carers and the people you support should continue to confidently use your usual health services such as GPs and hospitals as needed. They will all have safety measures to protect the health of staff and people using the services.

It is also good to have a plan for someone who can take over the carer role or to find respite for your loved one while you are sick.

Medicines for treating COVID-19

COVID-19 medicines (anti-virals) can be prescribed to reduce the severity of illness and help reduce the risk of hospitalisation for those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19. These medicines need to be taken within five days of a person first developing symptoms for COVID-19.

Older people, Māori and Pacific people, and people with complex health needs are more at risk of becoming seriously unwell with COVID-19. 

If you test positive for COVID-19 talk to your GP, community pharmacy, or health care provider as soon as possible. They will advise if COVID-19 medicines are suitable for you.

See COVID-19 antiviral medicine - for further information.

Testing and isolating

Please test immediately by using a rapid antigen test (RAT) if you or the person you care for has COVID-19 symptoms. or are a household contact of someone with COVID-19.  

Find out more about accessing, taking and reporting the results of RATs. 

Household contacts are generally people who live (permanently or part-time) with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or they have spent at least 8 hours with them in the same home while the person was infectious.

If a person is a household contact and they develop one or more COVID-19 symptoms, they are recommended to stay at home and test with a RAT.

If they test negative but their symptoms persist, they should continue to stay at home and repeat the test with a RAT in 24 and 48 hours.

If at any point they test positive for COVID-19, it is recommended the person isolates for at least 5 days and that they follow relevant guidance.

See 'If you have COVID-19' - Health and Information Services

Testing positive

Isolation guidance for the public recommends that people who test positive for COVID-19 should isolate for at least 5 days. However, as healthcare workers have a unique role and therefore a unique responsibility when considering their return to work following COVID-19 infection or exposure, specific guidance for these workers has been developed.

The COVID-19 guidance for return to work for healthcare workers provides advice for health sector clinical leaders and managers on managing the return to work of healthcare workers who have been infected with, or exposed to, COVID-19, as well as those who have acute respiratory symptoms but have tested negative for COVID-19.  


For public guidance on what do when someone tests positive for COVID-19, see If you have COVID-19 - 

Tips to stay safe and keep others safe

Many people who are cared for by a loved one can be vulnerable to COVID-19. The following are helpful tips for managing COVID-19 for your household and any visitors but also if you are planning to visit other people who are vulnerable:

  • keep a safe distance from people you do not live with — except for the person you care for or support workers helping the person you provide care for.
  • let in fresh air in the spaces you live, provide care, work and gather with others to reduce the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19.
  • wear a face mask and if you have visitors, ask them to wear a face mask.
  • cough into your elbow, wash your hands and clean often-touched surfaces
  • stay at home if you are unwell and get tested if you have symptoms — even if they are mild.
  • if you test positive for COVID-19, or are unwell, isolate from friends or family, whānau and āiga until better.
  • with events, if you feel more comfortable participating from home, you could ask the organisers for a livestream option.
  • offer to drop off groceries or essential supplies.
  • keep in touch and check on their physical and mental wellbeing.
  • stay connected with people using the phone or the internet, or by meeting up in a COVID-safe way such as outdoors, with physical distancing, and/or wearing face masks.

Support for carers

Taking a break

Respite or 'taking a break' is very important to support family, whānau and āiga carers’ mental and physical health and wellbeing. Carers are encouraged to use their respite and carers support allocations where possible.

Respite supports or services are allocated by Needs Assessment and Service Coordination agencies (NASCs) and are funded by Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People  (for disability support needs) and Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora (for aged care, mental health and addiction, long-term chronic health and palliative care needs).

If you are concerned about your wellbeing or the wellbeing of your family, whānau or āiga, and/or feel desperate for support you should talk to your NASC immediately. Emergency or urgent respite may be available. You should make your concerns clear when you talk to your NASC.

For a list of all NASC organisations, visit the Needs Assessment and Service Coordination Association website (

Visit the Carers NZ website to download a free copy of the Time Out Guide, a guide to help carers plan and organise respite breaks. The Carers NZ site also includes other respite planning strategies and tools you may find helpful.

Respite supports and services when caring for a person with a disability

Read about Respite supports and services when caring for a person with a disability.

This includes Carer Support which provides reimbursement of some of the costs of using a support person to care and support a disabled person so that their carer can take some time out.

Read more about Carer Support and disabled people.

Carer wellbeing

When you are caring for someone, you also need to take care of yourself. A free national mental health and addiction support service is available 24/7 – call or text 1737. More on mental health and wellbeing support is available through COVID-19: Mental health and wellbeing resources

Carers NZ’s Emergency Care Planning Tool. This helps to bring together key information on your role as a carer and for someone to step in if you’re unable to care. You can access it at Carers NZ

My Health Passport. A health passport is a booklet you can use when visiting hospitals or health and disability services. It records key information about the person you are caring for, to help health professionals support them. You can also have your own passport. You can create a passport through this link My Health Passport, or by visiting, or by calling the Health and Disability Commission on 0800 11 22 33.

Useful links for carers

Here are other useful links to information and supports: