Personal medical alarms
You can apply for government help to pay for a monitored medical alarm service if you're ill or have a disability.
Who can get help
The government pays for the weekly cost of the medical alarm service if you have:
- ongoing or age-related health problems
- a disability caused by your health or an injury.
You must also be eligible for publicly funded healthcare.
If you want to buy an alarm you need to pay for that yourself.
You can't get government help to rent an alarm that is monitored by a family member, eg a GPS-based pendant that links to a smart phone.
How to ask for government help
The help you get from government depends on your personal circumstances, eg your income and assets.
If you're ill or have a disability
You can apply for a Disability Allowance to cover the rental and monitoring costs of your medical alarm. When you apply you need:
- a signed medical alarm certificate from your doctor — you can ring, or visit Work and Income to pick up the form, or download it from their website
- a copy of your contract with the alarm supplier or the receipt for the installation of the alarm.
Most people contact Work and Income before they apply. If you get approval for a Disability Allowance to pay for your alarm, payments begin from whichever date is later:
- the day you first contacted Work and Income about it
- the date you started paying for your alarm.
After an accident or injury
If the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) is supporting you after an accident or injury, then your case owner works out what equipment you need because of your injury. This could include funding a medical alarm.
How ACC can help you: equipment
If you're living in a retirement village
If your alarm was paid for by a Disability Allowance before you moved into the retirement village, when you move in you'll still receive the Disability Allowance for your alarm if:
- you still need it, and
- the cost isn't covered by the service fee at the retirement village.
If the cost is part of the standard service fee you're paying to live in a retirement village, you can't apply for a Disability Allowance to pay for it.
If you're a veteran
If your service qualifies you, and you can't get other government help, the Veterans' Independence Programme helps with the cost of a medical alarm.
Contact Veterans' Affairs to talk to a case manager about getting a medical alarm.
Who provides medical alarms
Most people get their alarm from a supplier accredited by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD). This means the supplier:
- offers agreed standards of service
- has an approved complaints process, and
- provides the alarm at a reasonable cost — usually $13 to $15 per week.
When you sign up, the supplier must give you a contract that gives details of their services and their complaints process. You can also get a copy of the Code of Practice for MSD's accredited suppliers of monitored medical alarms.
If your alarm is not from an accredited supplier
If you want to use an alarm service that is not accredited by MSD, you need to pay for that yourself.
Contact Work and Income for more information about approved suppliers.
If you're over 65, contact Senior Services at the Ministry of Social Development.
Freephone: 0800 552 002 (office hours)
If you can't get government help
If you're 65 or older
Your SuperGold Card offers discounts from medical alarm suppliers in some areas of NZ.