Extended flexibility for Carer Support and Individualised Funding

updated 1 March 2021

The Disability Directorate of the Ministry of Health will continue flexibility of carer support and individualised funding for eligible people from 1 March 2021.

Carer Support is a subsidy to support full-time carers of disabled people to have a break (respite) from their caring responsibilities. Individualised Funding allows disabled people to directly manage their supports (personal cares, home management and respite).

 For further questions: customerservice@health.govt.nz or phone 0800 855 066 option 4.

This flexibility means that people can continue to buy the support appropriate for them within guidelines, instead of being limited by the rules on what support funding can be used for.  You can find the guidelines of what you can buy here. What People Can Buy with Disability Funding: Ministry of Health NZ | Purchasing Guidelines.

In the Briefing to Incoming Ministers, Carers NZ asked that the flexibility be offered permanently for all carers, to support them to have breaks that work for them. For now, this flexibility is for disability only, not those who receive the Subsidy via their DHB. We are hoping DHBs will finally follow suit. You can continue to spend your Carer Support on any disability support or service that helps you to live your life or makes your life better, and that gives you a break from caring for your family member with a disability, or to provide a break for the disabled person. You can use the funding if it is reasonable and cost-effective and not funded through other funding options such as a Disability Allowance. Find out about what is reasonable for you to buy and you can find out more information here

While MoH is engaging with DHBs about these changes, these rules only apply if you are allocated Carer Support and IF through the Ministry (not your DHB). Please contact your DHB for information about other supports.

Carer Support 

Individualised Funding

Carer Support funded by the Ministry of Health

This means that if you receive Carer Support from the Ministry of Health:

  • you must work within your current funding allocation;
  • you can continue to spend Carer Support on any support or service that helps you have a break from caring from your family member with a disability or to provide a break for the disabled person.

You cannot use your Carer Support for the following:

  • paying family carers who are either a family member living with the disabled person or a parent or a spouse;
  • illegal activities, gambling or alcohol;
  • to pay for things that are not disability supports like rent/mortgage, food, personal debt, gifts, power, usual household items etc.

“As it is up to you to choose what support or services to buy, it’s your responsibility to make sure the respite is of good quality and covers all your requirements. You will need to keep a simple record of what you have spent the money on and when you buy items, keep the receipts.”

We have asked the Ministry for examples of support or services people can buy using their Carer Support allocation.

Individualised Funding – funded by the Ministry of Health
If you receive Individualised Funding through the Ministry of Health:

You must work within your current funding allocation.

You can continue to spend your Individualised Funding on any disability support or service that helps you to live your life or makes your life better, so long as it is reasonable and cost-effective, and not funded through other funding options such as a Disability Allowance. You can talk to your IF Host or Coach about what is reasonable for you to buy and you can find out more information here: www.health.govt.nz/publication/what-people-can-buy-disability-funding-ministry-health-purchasing-guidelines

You cannot use your Individualised Funding for the following:

Paying family carers who are either a family member living with the disabled person or a parent or a spouse (see exception below)

Illegal activities, gambling or alcohol

To pay for things that are not disability supports like rent/mortgage, food, personal debt, gifts, power, usual household items etc.

You can only pay a resident family member to provide household management and personal care supports for those disabled people assessed as having ‘high’ or ‘very high’ needs. You cannot pay resident family members to provide respite.

As it is up to you to choose what support or services to buy, it’s your responsibility to make sure that the support or service is of good quality and covers all your requirements.

You will need to keep a simple record of what you have spent the money on and when you buy items, keep the receipts.

Remember that you must continue to honour any employment contracts that you have. You can find out more about terminating an employment agreement at: www.employment.govt.nz/ending-employment/