An ongoing chronic illness can limit a person's ability to perform daily tasks, and sometimes people with ME/CFS and Long COVID need some practical help to be able to live their best lives with their current health.
There are a number of community-based support options you may be able to access - either independently or through your doctor.
There are also other national and regional ME/CFS groups in Aotearoa that support people with ME/CFS or work at a national level to raise awareness about this illness.
Work and Income New Zealand provides financial support and assistance for those who need it. You may be eligible for one or more regular payments.
Contact your local WINZ office or see the WINZ website for their eligibility criteria.
Contact us for further information about financial support provided by WINZ and general advocacy.
Many charities, churches, and social support agencies provide food parcels and support packages for families in need.
Visit the Food Bank website to find local agencies providing food parcels near you.
To be eligible for funded home help, you will need to undergo a Needs Assessment.
They assess your needs in regards to help and support.
This could be:
It is best for your doctor or health provider to complete a referral.
For Personal Care and Home Help there are specific things that will and won't get funded so discuss your options with your doctor or advocate.
Total Mobility Scheme
(Public Transport and Taxis)
This is a nationwide service that assists people with long-term impairments to access appropriate transport to meet their daily needs and enhance their community participation.
It involves subsidised public transport and approved taxi services.
For more information you can also check out your local council or regional transport service.
Mobility Parking Permit
If your ability to walk long distances has been disrupted by Long COVID, a mobility parking permit could be very helpful.
This will allow you to use allocated disability parking spots that are often closer and more accessible to services such as grocery stores and shopping centres.
CCS Disability Support Services provide mobility permits for a small fee. To access the mobility parking scheme, complete the form on the CCS disability action website and get it signed off by your doctor.
Other Transport Providers
It's amazing how good it can feel to talk with and get support from others who understand your condition and what it's like to live with Long COVID or ME/CFS.
Below are links to the ME Support NZ Facebook Group, Long COVID NZ FaceBook Support Group and Long Covid Kids New Zealand FaceBook group.
These are dedicated online support groups for people with ME/CFS, Long COVID and their whanau. ME Support also has regular facilitated online support groups with guest speakers or illness management topic discussions available to anyone with ME/CFS, Long COVID or their whanau or carers.
The event details are posted on our Facebook Support group and emailed to members.
Online support groups:
If you find it hard to talk to people you know, ask your doctor or health professional about free counselling services.
There are also free helplines, listed below, that you can call if you need someone to talk to.
Community-based support for people managing mental distress - speak to your GP for a referral
There are a range of services that offer advocacy.
An advocate can help you to access services and supports by being a support person, navigating services on your behalf, or assisting you in making applications or complaints.
Advocates often have work in specific areas of wellbeing - see below for some of the many advocacy services in Aotearoa.
Work and Income NZ Advocacy
Most regions have an advocacy service for helping with Work and Income, here are the ones for our five main centres.
Contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) for your regional Work and Income advocacy organisation is not listed below.
Workbridge is a national organisation that supports people with disabilities or chronic illness to find a job that suits their needs. The Human Rights Commission or organisations such as Workbridge can help you ask for support from your employer.
There are a number of regional services that also provide supported employment services, these can be found on the NZ Disability Support Network website.
You may be able to contact your employment union advocate for advice on discussing your support needs and reasonable accommodations with your current employer.
Reasonable Accommodations are protected by the Human Rights Act 1993. Please CLICK HERE for more information about reasonable accommodations.
Health and Disability Advocacy
The nationwide Health & Disability Advocacy Service has advocates in most areas of New Zealand. They offer free, independent, and confidential advice and support to help you resolve issues with health and disability services.
Their advocates will let you know about your rights, answer your questions and talk through your options for making a complaint, and support you through the whole process.
To find a local advocate or talk to them, freephone 0800 555 050 (8am to 6pm Monday to Friday).
To make a complaint or ask for information and advice about your rights under the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights, contact the Health and Disability Commissioner.
Help with your health
For general health advice, Healthline is available 24/7 - you'll be able to talk to a trained specialist who can advise you on the best next steps to take.
As part of a new 2022 government healthcare initiative to provide funding for Long COVID, Health Improvement Practitioners (HIPs) are now available within medical practices nationwide.
The free HIP service can work with you to support your mental health goals or deal with mental distress that you may be experiencing. Ask your health provider about this to support your mental health.
This free wellbeing service operates within medical practices in Tamaki Makaurau for you and your whānau and includes three new roles:
Awhi Ora Community Support Workers
Health Improvement Practitioners (HIPs).
These providers can support your ongoing health needs, and with things like: housing and financial issues, eating and exercise, managing stress and sleep, long-term health conditions, anxiety, depression or feeling down, family/whānau/parenting & relationships, challenges with alcohol and other drugs.
People wanting support with any health or wellbeing needs are able to access wellbeing teams free of charge through your medical clinic, just speak to your GP.