Help for you as a carer

The role of caring for someone you love who is unwell is often misunderstood. It’s not until you fall into that position that you fully understand.

Harbour Hospice appreciates better than most exactly what it takes to be a carer and the importance of support and selfcare while you’re in this role. We offer a variety of programmes, support groups, help at home, counselling and more so that you can feel confident and well supported through the good days and the challenging ones.

As well as offering respite care, we can also connect you to one of our friendly family support team members who are skilled in managing the stress and loss that often comes with being a carer.


A great place to start if you find yourself in a carer role, is to build a strong support network of people you love and trust around you who will help you and your loved one throughout the entire journey. In this resource developed by Hospice New Zealand, you’ll find some great advice and tips about how to build your support network, the importance of open communication, asking for help, managing visitors and much more.


In what can be a time of uncertainty, and sometimes loneliness, being around others who are in a similar position can help you feel supported and understood. Sharing, connecting and learning from others in a safe and supportive environment, may help make this challenging time more manageable. Click on the drop down menus below to learn more about our Patient Day Groups and Carer Programme.

Patient day groups give an opportunity for people to connect with others who have a life-limiting illness, while also giving carers the opportunity to take a break and get some respite of their own.

These groups include...

 A social support group with a variety of activities, such as coffee mornings, speakers/presentations, activities and hand and foot massage.

PATIENT SUPPORT GROUPS / The experience of living with illness can impact on all areas of life. This group offers an opportunity for exploration and shared discussion. While it can bring up sadness, we also laugh a lot.

DAY GROUPA patient social support group with a variety of activities including guest speakers, music, morning tea and a light lunch.

View all of our patient day groups and support programmes here.


Attending our carer programme is one way you can both connect with others and learn more about how to effectively care for your loved one.

The framework of this programme focusses on key areas of care such as:

  • nutrition
  • physical care
  • movement
  • the Hospice care team
  • community resources.

This is a wonderful opportunity to get support from others who are in a similar position.

Find out more here.


We appreciate it’s not always easy to ask for help, but our professional team are here to support you in any way you need. This includes one-on-one, family or group counselling, social, cultural and spiritual support as well as help at home – which can include everything from transport, gardening to companionship.

Our team works with individuals and families, whānau and carers who may be struggling to cope with the challenges of living with a life limiting condition and the changes it brings. The emotional stressors associated with illness can often be as difficult to deal with as the physical symptoms.

Counselling offers you an opportunity to safely explore your thoughts and feelings with a professional counsellor, in total confidence.

We offer support on a one-to-one basis, with families or in groups. We can also help families to talk with children and young people about death and dying, and provide resources, such as books, which are specifically written for children and young people.

Bereavement counselling and a range of bereavement programmes are also available to families, whānau, and carers. Please click here to find out more.

Our team provides practical support and advice for patients and their family, whānau and carers with a life limiting condition.

They can help you with a wide range of issues, including:

  • benefit or pension queries
  • housing or residential care placements
  • legal issues such as power of attorney and making a will
  • accessing equipment
  • practical support
  • funeral planning.

All our services have access to cultural support and an interpreting service which we encourage you and your family, whānau and carers to use to make it easier to tell us what you need and how we can support you.

Our Pou Arahi at North Shore and our Kaiawhina at Hibiscus Coast are available to walk alongside our Māori and Pacific Island patients and their whānau throughout their journey with Hospice.

Our Asian liaison social worker is available at North Shore to provide support for Asian families in Hospice care.

Our specialists in spirituality are available to offer spiritual care, irrespective of your faith, religion or beliefs.

Some people may not identify with any particular religion, and have their spiritual care needs met in other ways.

Our main focus is supporting you in whichever way gives your life meaning and purpose.

We can support you to observe your spiritual requirements be it religious practices, rituals, or individual prayer, and arrange for representatives of your faith to visit if you wish.

We can connect you with skilled support volunteers who can provide a range of services that may help you, such as:

  • providing transport to Hospice and health related appointments
  • home visits
  • companionship
  • gardening support.

Please don’t be shy in asking your care team how we can support you at home.


It can be a long and tough journey at times for you and the person you are caring for, which is why it’s so important to look after your own wellbeing as much as can you manage.

Think about a recent plane trip where before takeoff they often say, “ensure you put your own oxygen mask on before assisting others.” In other words, we must look after ourselves first, in order to be in the best position to help others. This includes eating and sleeping well, spending more time doing things you enjoy, exercising, asking for help and even learning to say “no”.

This helpful resource  from Australian-based  Carer Help  gives some good suggestions and reminders about helping you to stay well. 


Many people find it useful to hear from other carers and to share experiences and learnings. Harbour Hospice will support you and the person you’re caring for, to live with the illness in ways that matter most to you, but listening to others’ experiences can be a great help for some.

You may know someone who has done this before and is happy to offer advice and support, or you can watch these videos to learn more about other people's carer journeys.