Support and information for older people

This section has information about COVID-19 and useful services for older people.

Want to talk to someone?

For free health advice, call Healthline on 0800 358 5453.

If you need help with urgent costs you may be eligible for support from Work and Income:

If it is an emergency and you need urgent medical help or cannot breathe properly, call emergency services on 111. If you have COVID-19, tell them when you call.

Large Print and audio

Information about our response to COVID-19 is available in Large Print and audio.

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Get a COVID-19 test

When you may need a COVID-19 test

You may need a test if:

  • you have symptoms of COVID-19
  • you live with someone who has COVID-19
  • you are travelling
  • your job needs you to take tests.

If you have a cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms you should get a test as soon as you start to feel unwell. Doing a test and reporting the result in My Covid Record means you can get the help you need as early as possible.

You can do a rapid antigen test (RAT) at home, either by yourself or with the help of a family member or support person. 

How to get a rapid antigen test (RAT) kit

You can collect free RATs. The service is easy to use, and there are RAT collection sites all around the country.

If needed, someone else can order and pick up a RAT kit for you.

Order over the phone: Call 0800 222 478

You can also arrange for a doctor or nurse to do a test for you at a testing centre. It is okay to bring someone with you when you get a test.

You can also get free advice from Healthline — call 0800 358 5453

Get tests delivered to your home

If you cannot leave your home, you may be able to have a RAT kit delivered to you.

How to report your results

Report your positive or negative RAT result by phone or online. Reporting a result means you can get extra support if you need it while self-isolating.

What happens if you get COVID-19

If you test positive

Report your positive RAT result online or over the phone.

If you have a mobile phone, you will receive confirmation of your test results by text from the Ministry of Health, using the official 2328 or 2648 numbers.

The text includes a link to the COVID-19 Health Hub. This is a safe and data-free website with trusted, up-to-date information about what to do next, and how to monitor your symptoms.

COVID-19 Health Hub (external link)

The text also includes a link to a form with questions about your health, wellbeing, and where you are living, so you can get extra help if you need it.

If you need help completing the form, email or call 0800 555 728.

What you need to do

We recommend you isolate for 5 days. This means you should stay at home and try to avoid contact with people you live with. 

Start counting from Day 0. This is the day your symptoms started or when you tested positive (whichever came first).

Make a plan for how you will get food or medicines delivered.

For most people, COVID-19 is a mild to moderate illness. You should be able to fully recover at home.

If you still feel unwell after 5 days, you should stay at home until 24 hours after your symptoms have gone.

Get vaccinated

Get your booster for the best protection

A booster dose will give you greater immunity against COVID-19. You can get a second booster if you are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. This includes all people aged 50 or over.

Learn more about getting a booster

If you have not been vaccinated yet, talk to your doctor or health professional for advice.

Vaccine advice if you have a health condition

Book your vaccination or get advice

To book your vaccination or get advice, call the COVID Vaccination Healthline on 0800 28 29 26.

If you are immunocompromised

Some people who are severely immunocompromised are eligible to get a third primary dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. This extra dose will help give you the best possible protection.

Your doctor can tell you whether you are eligible for this third primary dose. 

Vaccination for people who are severely immunocompromised | (external link)

Get support

If you have carers or home support

If you test positive, tell your support provider so they can put protective measures in place. Your in-home care will carry on, even if you are sick with COVID-19.

Anyone who is providing care must follow infection prevention control procedures.

Infection prevention and control recommendations for health and disability care workers | (external link)

What to do if your support worker or carer gets COVID-19

Financial support

If you need help with urgent costs you may be eligible for support from Work and Income:

If you are not coping

Find helplines that are available if you are not coping or have concerns for others.

Wellbeing helplines and support

Wearing a face mask

Face masks are a way we can protect ourselves and others from COVID-19. We encourage you to wear one whenever you can. 

Free face masks

If you are at higher risk of severe illness, you can get free P2/N95 face masks when you pick up rapid antigen tests (RATs) from a testing centre. You do not need to be unwell or have COVID-19 symptoms. You still need to order through the Request free COVID-19 RAT kits website.

Find a testing site that offers free face masks | Healthpoint (external link)

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