New COVID-19 alert levels. Read our information for disabled people and whānau.

FAQ: Disability support services during Alert Level 3

During COVID-19 Alert Level 3, there may be changes to the way you access your support services.

This page contains information about potential changes to support services, and where you can go for more information. 

What are the Alert Level 3 rules? 

The main rules under Alert Level 3 are: 

  • Stay home if you’re sick 
  • Stay in your household bubble 
  • Keep 2-metres away from people from other bubbles 
  • Work from home if you can 
  • Don’t travel to other regions 

Find out more about the rules under Alert Level 3 (external website)

People who have Individualised Funding (IF) and employ their own support workers 

What can I use my funding to buy during Alert Level 3? 

During Alert Level 3 you can use your funding to buy things they you couldn’t before COVID-19. For example: 

  • To pay for grocery delivery rather than pay a care or support worker to help you with shopping 
  • To buy things that will help you stay in touch with others during COVID-19 (e.g. a tablet for video messaging), to improve your skills, do activities in your home, or support your family and whānau to continue to do their care and support role.

Find out more about what you can buy with your funding (external website)

What do I do if my support worker can’t come to work? 

During COVID-19 Alert Level 3, your support workers must not come to work if they, or someone they live with: 

  • Could be sick with COVID-19 
  • Have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 
  • Are at higher risk or severe illness if they contract COVID-19, or 
  • If the worker is aged 70 years or older 

If this applies to you, you should discuss and agree with your support workers, and their employer if they have one, that they must not come to your home to work. 

In Alert Level 3, you can apply for the Ministry of Social Development for funding for support workers who cannot work. This funding is called COVID-19 Leave Support.

Find out more from about COVID-19 Leave Support from Work and Income (external website)

What if I ask a support worker not to provide support during Alert Level 3? 

To keep you and your bubble safe, you may decide to reduce the number of support workers who provide support to you during COVID-19 Alert Level 3. If this is the case, you need to get your support worker’s agreement. 

You still need to comply with the employment agreements you have in place with your support workers, although you can work out changes with your support workers. 

If you ask a support worker not to provide support, you still have to pay them for the hours they are not required. 

What do I do if my funding has run out or expired? 

If your funding runs out because you’ve had to pay support workers who are on special leave during COVID-19, the Ministry of Health may be able to start paying your next budget earlier. 

Contact your NASC, Connector or Kaitūhono if you need to do this. You will need to keep a record of the extra costs you have had to pay to be able to do this. 

NASC services 

Do NASC services continue during Alert Level 3? 

Yes, but NASCs should provide their services in alternative ways (e.g. virtually, remotely).

Limited visits are allowed under Alert Level 3 if this can be done safely. Good physical distancing should be practised, as well as good hygiene, infection control practices, and the ability to support contact tracing. 

Community residential services 

Do community residential services still operate under Alert Level 3? 

Yes. Community residential services are considered essential and will continue to operate under Alert Level 3. 

Residential homes should encourage physical distancing, provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) where appropriate, and keep track of people who enter or exit the community. 

Can residents of community residential services move homes during Alert Level 3? 

Maybe. Residents should not move to a new home during Alert Level 3 unless it’s essential or an emergency. The Ministry of Health has provided examples of when a move might be appropriate. These include: 

  • When a person is being discharged from hospital
  • Managing a situation or risk to ensure the ongoing safety of a resident 
  • A court-ordered assessment for a person going through a criminal justice process who may require placement under the High and Complex Framework. This will only impact on Regional Intellectual Disability Supported Accommodation Services (RIDSAS) that are required to maintain access to assessment beds. RIDSAS providers need to be prepared for possible referrals to assessment beds. 
  • Where there are concerns that a resident has been abused, or is likely to be abused, a move may be required of the alleged perpetrator in order to keep the resident safe. 
  • Where a person has become deeply distressed by the disruption to their usual routine or support, and their behaviour challenges the ability of their family or carers to sustain the support they provide. 
  • People who have been staying with their family who wish to go back to their home. These situations would need to follow any isolation requirements. 

Are visits to community residential services allowed? 

Yes. Residents can receive visitors (from outside of their bubble) during Alert Level 3. These visits must be safe and controlled to ensure resident and staff wellbeing and safety. This means following good hygiene practices, maintaining physical distancing, and following contact tracing guidance. 

Respite 

Do facility-based respite services operate during Alert Level 3? 

No. Facility-based respite services are closed at Alert Level 3. People are encouraged to consider alternative ways to access respite. For example, through virtual supports, or accessing alternative supports through flexible funding options. 

Carer support 

Is carer support still available during Alert Level 3? 

Yes. Carers can use their support more flexibly during Alert Level 3, so that: 

Relief care can be used when you are doing other paid work, even if you are working from home 

You can use your carer support funding to buy things that will provide you with respite, as long as you stay within your total budget. For example, this could be things like art and craft suppliers, books or DVDs 

To claim for carer support, send in your carer support forms as usual and, if possible, attach receipts for any goods you have purchased. 

If you have no received any relief care, you don’t need a signature from a relief carer on your carer support forms. Payments will continue to be made in half days or days as usual. 

Emergencies 

I’m concerned about my wellbeing (or the wellbeing of my whānau), and I desperately need support. What should I do? 

Talk to your NASC immediately. Emergency respite with a disability support service may be available. Make your concerns clear when to talk to your NASC. 

Day services 

Are day services open during Alert Level 3? 

No. Day services remain closed at Alert Level 3. Services should be providing support in alternative ways. 

Supported Living providers, Home and Community Support Services and Choice in Community Living providers 

Does in-home support continue during Alert Level 3? 

Yes. All community services that provide essential personal care (e.g. help with toileting, showering, etc) to people can continue to operate under Alert Level 3, with the appropriate use of PPE. 

Household management is allowed where the disabled person’s wellbeing is at risk without it. This can be decided on a case-by-case basis. 

Can services focused on social connections continue to operate under Alert Level 3? 

Yes. Where Supported Living Services are primarily focused on facilitating social connections, providers are expected to continue to use alternative forms of communication to connect with people they support. 

Those services that can work from home, without face-to-face visits, should continue to do so unless deemed essential. 

Equipment and modification services 

Can equipment and modification services still happen during Alert Level 3? 

Yes. Equipment and modification services are essential, but there are some restrictions due to physical distancing requirements. 

Can I get equipment delivered during Alert Level 3? 

Yes. Under Alert Level 3, essential equipment can be provided if it can be delivered to a person’s home, and safety set up by the people in that home. 

Providing more complex equipment will be considered on a case-by-case basis. 

Will my housing modification be done under Alert Level 3? 

Maybe. Urgent housing modifications that can be done safely can go ahead. Other modifications may have to wait until a return to lower alert levels. Contact your service provider for clarification around the status of your modification. 

Will my vehicle modification be done under Alert Level 3? 

Maybe. Vehicle modification services will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Contact your provider to find out if your vehicle modification can be done during Alert Level 3. 

Behaviour suport 

Are specialist behaviour support services still running under Alert Level 3? 

Yes, but with some changes. Specialist Behaviour Support is available over the phone during Alert Level 3. Whānau and support workers can call 0800 000 421 to receive wellbeing and behaviour support advice and support from Explore Behaviour Specialists. 

You can call between 9am-5pm Monday to Friday. 

Audiology services 

Are audiology services still running under Alert Level 3? 

Yes, but face-to-face assessments can only be provided for urgent care. All other appointments can be done virtually. 

Urgent care for community allied health professionals is defined as: 

  • A condition that is life or threatening, or 
  • Treatment required to maintain the necessities of life, or 
  • Treatment that cannot be delayed or carried out remotely without risk of significant harm or permanent and/or significant disability 

AND 

  • That cannot be delivered by a service that is currently operating, or by health professionals that are already in contact with the person.