Long-term health conditions

Living with long-term health conditions in the time of COVID-19

This is a stressful time for a lot of people, but living with a long-term health condition can make this especially difficult. You can find advice here that will help you get through this tough time.

Staying at home for an extended period


As we’re now at Alert level 2 it’s likely that you’ve been at home for an extended period. So you might be feeling a bit lonely and cut off from the important people in your life.

At Alert Level 2, there is more freedom to move around and reconnect with family, whanau, friends and colleagues. If you are someone with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, a respiratory illness or immune-compromised, you’ll need to take extra precautions when you get out and about.

Things you can do to stay safe:

  • Reconnect with smaller groups of close family, whānau and friends. You can have friends and family over to your home now, but you might want to keep the number of people visiting lower than the maximum number of 10.
  • Keep your distance from other people when you’re out in public (ideally 2 metres).
  • Take extra care with hygiene practices – wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands!
  • Try not to interact with too many people outside of your own social circle as it won’t be easy to do contact tracing if it’s needed.
  • Avoid touching surfaces. Find ways of reminding yourself about this, like holding your hands together.
  • Wash your hands before and after you leave home. Make it part of the ritual – keys, wallet, ... wash hands!
  • Regularly disinfect any surfaces that you touch often, such as keys, handrails and phones.
  • Avoid passing around your mobile phone to other people.
  • If you’re sick, stay home.
  • If you have symptoms of cold or flu, call your doctor or Healthline (0800 358 5453) and get tested for COVID-19.

Managing stress and distress


It’s normal to feel stressed and anxious and there is some advice on how to manage this here.

Stay informed but try and find a healthy balance with the media you consume, especially if you’re finding it distressing.

Seek out accurate, reliable and up-to-date information from trusted sources backed by experts. We’ve provided links to some of these key agencies at the end of this page. 

There are also lots of new apps, online groups, and community services popping up all the time, so it’s a good time to try something new and find the support that works for you.

  • Try The Journal it’s a free, personalised programme to help you manage anxiety or depression and is a helpful tool for anyone having a tough time. You’ll be guided by a team of experts through lifestyle and problem solving skills to help you stay positive.
  • Try the new Mentemia app from All Blacks legend Sir John Kirwan.
  • The health journal app Melon provides a health journal, resources and self-awareness tools to help manage your emotional wellbeing.
  • There’s also an eTherapy programme called Staying on Track that teaches practical strategies to cope with the stress and disruption to everyday life.

Take stock and make a plan


Take stock of what’s important to you, make a plan for how you’ll manage your prescriptions, and communicate this with your whanau and wider support network. Make sure they know what you need. It’s okay to ask for help. Making a plan will make you feel more confident and in control which will also help you manage stress.

Seek information to take practical steps to prepare your plans and protect yourself and loved ones. Unite against COVID-19 is the best place to start.

Community pharmacists are required to limit dispensing of all funded medicines to one month's supply (or three months for oral contraceptives). Stay up-to-date with information from Pharmac.

Access services and goods


If you can go shopping make sure it’s safe, and if you can’t you may need extra help to access the things you need. If you find yourself in this situation there is help available from your local Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Group. There are some supermarkets, like Countdown, who are prioritising vulnerable customers who want to use the delivery service. Supermarkets are working with organisations to allocate a priority code for delivery.

Stay in touch with your health professionals


Please contact your local GP or specialist to help you manage your health needs.

  • Health and medical facilities are open. This includes healthcare services, such as Healthline, GPs, cancer services, disability, and aged support services.
  • The way these services operate might change, for example, your GP might offer a phone or videoconference consultation rather than see you in person, so give them a call or send them an email first.
  • Contact one of the organisations at the end of this page as they have specific advice and clinicians on hand to provide advice or point you in the right direction.
  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19 please contact Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (or international +64 9 358 5453).
  • If you are severely unwell, for example having trouble breathing, dial 111.

If you need extra support or to speak to someone

Free call or text 1737 anytime of the day or night to talk with a trained counsellor.

Keep moving, eat well, sleep better


You can do some key things to support your physical and mental wellbeing.

  • Healthy eating is one way to keep yourself well during this time. Choose a variety of healthy food including lots of vegetables and fruit, whole grains, legumes, pulses, low-fat dairy and nuts. Try and avoid foods high in sugar, salt and saturated fats. Drinking plenty of water also helps you feel good. For some new whānau recipe ideas visit the Healthy Kids website.
  • Getting enough sleep is important for your overall wellbeing. Aim for 7 to 8 hours and try to maintain consistent bed and wake up times. Including some physical activity in your day can help promote good quality sleep.
  • Regular physical activity is essential for our physical and mental wellbeing. Aim to get out outside and move your body every day. It might help if you schedule in some activity at a similar time each day. Remember that any physical activity is better than none. Try and find something that you enjoy and don’t push yourself too hard.
  • Avoid using unhelpful coping strategies such as tobacco, alcohol or other drugs. In the long term, these can worsen your mental and physical wellbeing.

Reliable, accurate and up-to-date information


To ensure you have the best advice, we’ve pulled together a range of organisations to support you and your whānauThese organisations work in your community and can provide more detailed information for a range of health conditions.

Download the NZ COVID Tracer app


Mobile app coming soon

Download available here: https://tracing.covid19.govt.nz

The quicker we can contact people who might have come into contact with COVID-19, the quicker we can stop the spread of the virus.

Here’s how you can help support contact tracing

  • Sign up today
  • Share your up-to-date contact information
  • Scan NZ COVID Tracer posters to keep track of where you’ve been
  • Ask your whānau, friends and workmates to join in

Don't have a smartphone?

You can still register online to share your latest contact information.

For more information, head to https://tracing.covid19.govt.nz

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