Community care pivots as New Zealand returns to greater normality

Support for ongoing and transitional care in the community, including:
A pivot in the work of Community Connectors

Trust and Certainty for Community Food Organizations and MSD’s Food Secure Communities Program
Funding to support the well-being of people with disabilities

“Our government continued to act quickly to respond to Omicron. Our immediate and ongoing efforts have focused on supporting individuals and whānau to safely isolate themselves, and providing social, welfare and food support to them and their families.” , said the Minister of Social Development and Employment, Carmel Sepuloni.

“We have worked hard to slow the spread of Omicron, and our government’s response shows it has paid off with a drop in demand for support. Now, with higher vaccination coverage rates, we are now able to pivot our response and support a wider range of circumstances for people who have been significantly impacted by the demands of COVID-19,” said said Carmel Sepuloni.

“Our post-peak plan focuses on continuing to use the tools that have helped us slow the spread of COVID, while continuing to move forward. As part of our transition beyond Omicron Peak, we bring confidence and certainty to social service organizations and food banks who have worked tirelessly to support their local communities, whānau and people.

“Food banks have worked effectively alongside government in our response to COVID-19. This is why we continue to provide them with financial assistance as we seek to return to greater normality, but also as we seek to expand our efforts to strengthen food security in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

“Partnering with and empowering the community food sector has been key to meeting demand in local communities, and it’s an approach that we know has worked. After responding to multiple resurgences and Omicron, this transition and the support we provide will be an important opportunity to reset and assess the future needs of the sector.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and the possible resurgence of new variants, further work is needed on a longer-term strategy to build community resilience. This means looking at the role of the community connection service and a community food supply plan.

“With 500 Community Connectors across the country, the Community Connection service has been a vital link in meeting the needs of people who are self-isolating. We will continue to fund this service, highlighting the role they play in communities across the motu, while enabling them to help people with broader COVID-related issues, such as supporting people with high needs and complex with employment or education support.

“In addition to other CiC support available to all New Zealanders, we also provide specific support for communities with disabilities. COVID-19 has exposed the existing vulnerabilities and inequalities that people with disabilities face in their daily lives.

“This earmarked funding was created in response to conversations that myself and officials have had with the disability community. The Department of Social Development (MSD) will work directly with the disability community to determine the best disability-specific support options in line with the “nothing about us without us” approach.

“The current situation is very different from two years ago. We now have higher vaccination rates, bigger data and more tools in the toolbox to help us slow the spread of Omicron As we embark on our post-peak plan and transition to greater normality, our response will continue to put people at the heart of it and ensure we leave no one behind,” said Carmel Sepuloni.

The government will continue to monitor the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 in our communities and will be prepared to reassess CiC’s social response again, including the Community Connection Service, if necessary for a new Omicron wave or variant.

Current Care in the Community social support will remain in place until the legislative requirement to self-isolate is lifted. This funding covers a transitional period until June 2023.

About Antoine L. Cassell

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