Disability and Accessibility

Almost one quarter* of New Zealanders identify as having a disability. There are a range of disabilities that people live with: physical, sensory, neurological, psychiatric, intellectual, sight and hearing disabilities.

This rises to over half of those over 65 years having at least one disability (59% in 2013). Canterbury has a higher proportion of over 65s in the population compared to New Zealand. High numbers of disabilities are hidden, meaning they aren’t visible.

Disabilities are associated with an increased likelihood of living in poverty, facing discrimination and experiencing numerous barriers to accessing health care. They face a higher prevalence of developing chronic diseases such as asthma, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol and stroke. Disabled New Zealand adults visit their general practice about twice as frequently over a year than those who are non-disabled.

* 24% in the 2013 NZ Census.

Primary care and disability

Primary care is at the forefront of health care to address the health needs of people with disabilities.

  • General practice and pharmacy interact with and care for high numbers of disabled patients, especially given that their volume of visits is double that of non-disabled patients.
  • Pegasus aims to create inclusive and positive health care for those with disabilities.
  • Disabled people are identified as a priority population to reach and support in the Pegasus Health Equity & Population Health Strategy 2022-30.
  • Pegasus is working on a more welcoming and accessible primary health service for disabled patients, whānau and staff.

Resources and support services

There are a range of organisations providing information and support services.

Browse our full list of disability service providers

Booking an NZSL interpreter

For deaf patients, you can book a sign language interpreter. Find out more about booking through:

More information

Go to HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury and search “disability” to find resources across our region.