Local distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) should help relieve what the E tū union says was a shortage for Whanganui community support health workers.
Union organiser Lyn Williams said workers would go into other people's bubbles and the nature of work required breaching safe distancing guidelines.
"They have to shower people, apply ointments, change bandages and they have not been supplied with all the protective equipment they need," she said.
Williams said frontline workers and their clients had been "badly let down" in the process and officials had shown poor understanding of how essential PPE was to them.
On March 31, the Ministry of Health announced frontline health workers in aged care, home care, and community support would have adequate PPE supplied by their local District Health Boards (DHBs).
A Whanganui DHB and Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) spokesman said the Whanganui EOC had followed Ministry of Health guidelines on PPE, distributing it on the basis of need and priority.
"The first supply of 20,000 masks from the Ministry of Health's national reserve has all been distributed to community healthcare and disability services providers. The second supply of 28,000 masks from the national reserve is due this week."
A Geneva home care worker who did not want to be identified said it had been a distressing situation for clients.
"They have received the messages that they should be staying in their bubbles and maintaining safe distances but they are dependent on us.
"They will ask 'why aren't you wearing a mask?' because they expect us to have the proper PPE."
The worker said she'd had to take on extra clients and tasks since the lockdown began.
"Some of our team have immunity concerns or other reasons why they can't work so we've had to cover for them and there are also other support workers who help with things like grocery shopping who have been stood down as non-essential during the lockdown so we have to cover their work as well."
Geneva Healthcare chief executive Veronica Manion said her company had received some emergency supplies of PPE that were being distributed to staff.
The company does not have a physical base in Whanganui and had asked to have their PPE sent to their Auckland base from where it would be sent to their Whanganui staff.
The EOC has now requested that Geneva establish a local contact to distribute PPE to local workers.
"Geneva Healthcare sent us a very large order for PPE and wanted it all sent to Auckland. It is important that PPE gets to the healthcare workers in the Whanganui region directly," the EOC spokesman said.
"Whanganui EOC asked for a local contact to coordinate the orders and distribution."
He said an order for Geneva's Whanganui employees was due to be processed on Thursday.
Manion said keeping staff safe and informed during a challenging time was her company's priority.
"The dedication of our staff has not gone unnoticed, and we thank them for the care and comfort that they provide to our clients."
Te Oranganui chief executive Wheturangi Walsh-Tapiata said employees of the iwi health authority currently had adequate PPE supplies.
"It is about good relationships and communication," she said.
"We know Whanganui DHB staff and who we need to talk to so although we didn't get all the supplies we ordered initially, through good communication we've been able to make sure everyone has been protected."
The EOC said Te Oranganui had made multiple orders with the first being a very large order at the beginning of April which could not be completely filled as the stock was needed for other providers.
"We provided Te Oranganui with a quantity of gowns, masks and face shields and asked them to come back when they needed more. We haven't heard from them in the past week but have reached out to them to ask if they would like more," a spokesperson said.
The EOC has also supplied 1550 masks to Access Community Health.
"Healthcare NZ has made several very large orders and, again, we have supplied them with as much as we can bearing in mind we have to provide for other organisations. We are currently processing this week's order."
All local orders from community healthcare and disability service providers will now be collated by the Whanganui EOC and then forwarded for central distribution once a week.
The worker who spoke to the Chronicle said she had not received her PPE supplies on Friday but she was pleased to learn that they were on their way.
"My colleagues and I have been sharing what we have by dropping a few gloves or bootees in each other's letterboxes.
"The last gloves I got were the powdered kind which give me rashes so I look forward to getting a proper supply."