Multiple Sclerosis New Zealand (MSNZ) recognises that this will be a very unsettling time for people with Multiple Sclerosis and their support networks. MSNZ has put in place measures to continue to provide information services over this period.
For many, Multiple Sclerosis can often be an isolating condition, and having community and peer support helps to alleviate this. Now, even more so, our community will be looking for information as well as social connections and support.
We also realise that the everyday needs of people with MS will continue. People will continue to be diagnosed, experience relapses, require symptom management and have questions regarding their condition. We encourage you to reach out to your Field Workers/Community Advisors and each other.
Regional Societies across the country have been putting measures in place to protect the health of their clients and staff. The current situation will require a new way of working for many, which may include working from home and providing support through phone and email rather than through groups and home visits.
You will see changes to services and include the cancelling of all non-essential meetings, groups, and events. If you are a member of a Regional Society, they will be in touch, if they haven’t already, to advise the services they will be able to provide in the foreseeable future. Any changes to the service will be communicated to you via your Regional Society.
While we recognise that these changes will be disappointing for many who rely on the social interaction they receive from their Regional Society, these decisions are not being made lightly but with your health and safety in mind.
MSNZ will continue to provide information services through our online communication channels to meet the information needs of people with Multiple Sclerosis. We will be looking to increase the output to keep our community engaged and informed. We encourage you to visit our website and Facebook for regular updates and information. Above all, we encourage you to have hope.
What can you do?
Where possible, you should arrange for alternative measures for having access to food and other essential items. See MSNZs website for some options for this. Make sure to check you have enough medication to hand.
The Government and Supermarkets have all advised there is no need to stockpile as supply chains in NZ are still open and functioning. It is stockpiling which puts pressure on the system as shelves cannot be restocked fast enough.
As you physically distance yourself from people, we strongly recommend remaining socially engaged. What other means of connecting with people can you use? Give friends and family a call, text, Facetime, or Skype, join an online group/forum. Being physically distant does not mean you need to socially isolate yourself.
Your local Field Worker/Community Advisor is also on the end of a phone or email should you need to talk to someone.
Follow MSNZ on Facebook for regular information and content.
For many people, this period may have an impact on their mental health. As such, the Mental Health Foundation has developed a new section on its website with wellbeing tips, answers to FAQs and Tikanga advice.
The number one message the Mental Health Foundation wants New Zealanders to hear is this: we will get through this if we work together. Connecting with people who make you feel safe and loved is the most important thing you can do to look after your mental health and the mental health of people around you.
All New Zealanders can free call or text 1737 at any time to speak with a trained counsellor – it’s free and confidential.
See MSNZs website for the latest recommendations regarding MS treatments. This information has been developed by Neurologists in Australia and New Zealand. If you have any questions regarding your treatment, please contact your primary health care professional or Neurology Team. Please bear in mind that health services will be very stretched and they will respond to you at the earliest opportunity.
Staying at home doesn’t mean you can’t look after your health. Exercise, diet and healthy living are essential to the successful management of Multiple Sclerosis and our mental health. We’ve put together some resources to help all levels of fitness and mobility to stay active at home.
We will be endeavouring to keep you up to date with information specifically how it relates to Multiple Sclerosis. Also, make sure you keep an eye on the Ministry of Health and COVID-19 websites for the most up to date national information and recommendations.
We are here. We are with you.