Kowheori Roa | Long Covid is a life-changing condition, and patients can find that accessing support is vital across a range of areas in their lives.
At this stage, New Zealand doesn’t have any standardised support services dedicated to Long Covid patients. This will likely change as Long Covid becomes more recognised, and more research and information about the condition becomes available.
In the meantime, here is a rundown of some of the support mechanisms that Kiwi Long Covid patients can tap into.
Health support | Āwhina hauora
Your general practitioner (GP)/family doctor is likely to be your first point of contact for everything related to health. Anecdotally, we know that some GPs have become very clued-up on Long Covid, are widely supportive and take a lateral approach to care. Others, not so much. If you find your GP is dismissive of your symptoms, don’t be afraid to get a second opinion from someone else. Accessing support is your right.
In the absence of Long Covid clinics or standardised support services, your GP should be your de facto Long Covid case manager. They should provide regular health checks, refer you to specialists, issue medical certificates for mahi | work, and ensure you have follow-up care.
Useful resources to take to your GP: Clinical Rehabilitation Guideline for People with Long Covid (PDF) | Clinical Rehabilitation Guideline for People with Long COVID – for clinicians (PDF) | Patient resource: Managing post-Covid-19 symptoms (PDF)
Physiotherapy and occupational therapy
Long Covid patients have found physiotherapy and occupational therapy very beneficial for managing symptoms at home and in the workplace. You don’t need a referral to see a physiotherapist or occupational therapist – you can simply phone and make an appointment.
Long Covid Physio has a website of valuable information that you and your physio could use.
Your GP may want you to see a specialist or other health provider – e.g. cardiologist, respiratory physician, neurologist, immunologist, gastroenterologist. These sites offer useful background information on New Zealand’s health specialists and their areas of expertise:
New Zealand has a range of disability and rehabilitation services – some are publicly funded, others privately operated. You may be eligible for a range of benefits and services.
- How to access support: Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People
- Getting a needs assessment begins with finding your local Needs Assessment Service Coordinator
- Access modifications to your home: Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People
- Access modifications to your workplace: Work and Income
- Mobility aids and equipment are available from Mobility Centre.
Other resources for accessing support
- Complex Chronic Illness Support is a registered charity dedicated to improving the quality of life of people who live with complex chronic illnesses, as well as that of their loved ones.
- ME Support helps Kiwis navigate ME/CFS and Long Covid.
- Health Navigator has a lot of useful resources to āwhina | help you manage your symptoms – and educate others.
- Te Whatu Ora – Waitematā has put together an information pack for adults experiencing Long Covid and those supporting them.
- The Ministry of Health offers some introductory information for managing Long Covid.
- Healthline (0800 611-116) and the Covid-19 Health advice line (0800 358-5453) are free to call, and you can kōrero | talk to someone about your concerns.
Financial support | Āwhina ahumoni
Long Covid health expenses, coupled with reduced income, can lead to significant financial stress. Depending on your situation, you may be able to get financial support from your income protection insurance and medical insurance cover (check with your insurance provider), or from Work and Income (disability allowance or Jobseeker Support with a medical exemption). These websites offer lots of useful financial advice:
- Sorted has lots of articles and interactive tools
- Money Talks has budget worksheets and can connect you with a financial mentor.