Introduction to the Toolkit

This Toolkit seeks to help those in the health and care sectors to address the needs of their rural populations when they develop strategies, initiatives and service delivery plans.

For ease of use the Toolkit guidance is based around six main themes, which are:

The term ‘rural proofing’ is used to define a systematic approach which identifies any notable rural differentials likely to impact on service effectiveness and outcomes.  It assists service providers by enabling thinking about appropriate solutions, mitigations and opportunities.  The objective is to ensure equitable outcomes for service users who live in rural areas.

Rural proofing can help to:

– Optimise the outcomes achieved by strategies and plans

– Demonstrate a commitment to act equitably and benefit all communities

– Support locality-based approaches to working and service

– Design out any unintended geographic gaps in service provision

– Identify opportunities to innovate or make better use of available resources

– Embed good practice within strategy and plan making

Rural proofing recognises that rural areas have distinct geographies, often characterised by a dispersed population and small settlements.  This can present challenges both for providers who deliver services and residents who use them.  There may be lost economies of scale, if smaller service hubs are needed, and extra downtime or travel costs, for those visiting service users at home.  Gaps in infrastructure (such as public transport and digital connectivity) may also be an important rural consideration.

Other pages in this online Toolkit offer advice about its use, some rural facts and figures, and summary or headline rural messages for the health and care sector.  The six themed pages include examples of good rural practice and other rural ideas.

Rural proofing was originally introduced as a central Government policy in 2000 as a means to improve policy making.  It remains a Government commitment.  See the national context page for further details.