What is Home Help?

If you have ongoing health problems, an injury or a disability, you can get help with housework, buying furniture or appliances, and some essential maintenance. 

How to apply for Home Help

The first step of applying for Home Help involves a Needs Assessment. Any person can apply for a needs assessment, either in person or by referral from any other person, such as a general practitioner. The contact details for a local needs assessment and service coordination service are available by contacting your local DHB.

If a person is living in the community and requires support, they should apply as soon as possible for a needs assessment by a Needs Assesment Service Coordination agency (NASC). The person may be eligible for health and disability support services that help them to maintain their independence at home. If a person receiving a support services package is unable to live safely in the community, and is re-assessed as requiring a high or very high level of care, then long-term residential care is available.

If a person is currently living in the community, and their health circumstances have changed they are able to apply for a re-assessment of their needs.

If a person is currently living in a residential care facility but has not been officially needs assessed by the NASC and wishes to apply for a needs assessment, then the person should apply for a needs assessment as soon as possible. This first step is necessary before the person applies for a financial means assessment to determine if they are eligible for government funding (the residential-care subsidy).

How long does a person have to wait to be needs assessed?

The NASC should contact the referred person within two days of receiving a referral. A completed needs assessment application should be processed within 20 working days, but it may take longer depending on the demands on the assessment service.

Is there a time limit on the validity of the needs assessment?

There is no time limit on the validity of the needs assessment. A reassessment may be called for if there has been a change to your needs and/or circumstances and the existing support plan no longer meets your needs.

What happens during a needs assessment?

They will have the information provided as part of the referral. They will ask about your health, what it impacts you doing and how it impacts you doing those tasks.

Be honest about your health and how it affects you.

Don’t go out of your way to clean and tidy your home. Part of the information the NASC gathers is through observing your environment so it’s really important they see how things really are for you.

Ask questions about what support is available to you and how you could be connected to other services that may be of support (occupational therapy for equipment etc).

Funding for Home Help

Funding comes from two avenues 

  • The Ministry of Health
  • Your local DHB

The funding can be administered in two different ways. Direct from the funding source (MoH or DHB) to the home help provider OR via MoH or DHB to you (this is an option you need to specifically choose otherwise it will automatically be administered directly to the home help provider you choose – this is called self-directed funding which is administered by the likes of Manawanui)

Your needs assessment will ultimately decide where your funding comes from (MoH or DHB). Once all the information has been gathered for the assessment (info from your referrer and the information gathered from your meeting with the NASC), you will be slotted into 1 of 4 categories: 

  • Short term help (ACC etc)
  • Long term chronic care
  • Aged care (over 65’s) 
  • Genetic long term care

The category you’re assigned to will dictate where your funding comes from and the limitations it may have for its usage. 

Before deciding if you want to use self-directed funding or have the funding going directly from the funding source to the home care provider it’s ideal to find out if the funding is coming from the MoH or DHB. Knowing this will help you learn about how you could utilise self-directed funding best. This way you can know what your options are and make the best decision for you.

What is self-directed/ individualised funding?

With this option, you effectively become the employer who then employs a person of your choice to do the tasks you need (cleaning, cooking etc). As the employer you also need to factor in ACC levies, leave (annual, sick, bereavement), establish a contract etc.

Depending on where the funding comes from for your care, there can be limitations for how you can use it. If the funding comes from the MoH there are less restrictions than if it comes from the DHB.

Manawanui can teach you how this process works with being the employer, your responsibilities and the limitations there may be.

The person you employ can be a family member, friend, via job advert or a cleaning agency.

For more information about self-directed funding.

What is Individualised Funding (IF)


What happens after the assessment?

You will be contacted (usually by a letter in the mail) to let you know the outcome of the assessment and the number of hours you’ve been allocated. Hours are split into 2 categories.

  • Home Help (cleaning, meal prep, making beds etc) 
  • Personal Care (bathing, medication support etc).

Once you have this information, you can work with the home help provider to schedule these hours OR if you’ve opted to utilise self-directed funding you will need to go about employing someone to do the home care.

For more information:

Help in your home

What you can expect from home support services

Can a family member or friend do my homehelp?

Yes. This can be done in two different ways. 

Your family member or friend can obtain employment with your selected health care provider (this may require doing some course and ongoing up-skilling) then be allocated to do your home care. That person can either choose to have you as their only client or take on other clients too if they wish.


If you have opted to utilise self-directed funding, you can employ your family member or friend.

Helpful hints:

  • Before the assessment
    • make notes of tasks you need help with, how your health affects you, questions you may have etc
  • During the assessment
    • Be really honest, it can feel really frustrating to need help in your home but the help is there for a reason so utilise it.
    • Ask any questions you may have
    • Have a support person there if that would help you. Would it also help for them to contribute if you’re having memory difficulties?
    • Take all the time you need to answer questions. If you think something is relevant, share it.
  • Once the home help starts
    • Plan a schedule for the hours the support worker is there to ensure everything you need gets done
    • Pre-plan meals if food prep is part of the help you’ve been allocated.
    • Don’t be afraid to speak up if you’re not happy about something. This person is coming into your home to do a job they’re being paid for so that means they need to respect your home and you (just like you’ll be respectful of them)
    • If you’re not happy with the support worker you’ve been allocated then request someone different.
    • If needed make a formal complaint. It takes time and energy to do it and can feel like nothing would change if you did but if things are happening that’s not ok then you need to speak up; otherwise those things will continue to happen.
    • There are limitations to a support worker can do due to health and safety rules. Your home care provider should discuss these with you before your home help starts.