Rural Proofing Headlines

In essence ‘rural proofing’ seeks to ensure that strategies, plans and services can be delivered effectively in rural areas, so the intended benefits reach all service users.  It means to inform and improve service planning and design processes.  Although it is likely to identify some challenges, it should also help to identify solutions and, in some cases, opportunities.

When developing health and care strategies, plans and services, the Toolkit should help to address considerations such as the following:

  1. That services which must be located at a main hospital, nonetheless, need to be sufficiently accessible to rural patients and their families (including those without a car or unable to drive), which could include putting mitigation measures in place.
  2. That more non-acute services could be made accessible locally, closer to where rural residents live, at health centres, care hubs or community hospitals.
  3. That services which deliver care to people in their own homes need to be designed so they work for clients in outlying or harder-to-reach locations (whilst retaining the care time made available).
  4. That rural delivery benefits could be realised from collaboration across health and care sectors and the creation of multi-disciplinary teams, including enhanced partnership working with voluntary and community organisations.
  5. That preventative initiatives which encourage healthier lifestyles and wellbeing should be promoted in rural settlements and available to different rural groups, taking pressure off statutory health and care services.
  6. That developments or innovations in health service provision, including in digital adoption, should be utilised wherever possible to seek rural solutions.
  7. That workforce planning needs to be alive to issues arising in rural locations, including at smaller hospitals, such as recruitment or retention issues and access to professional training.
  8. That both statistical analyses and service user feedback on health needs or inequalities could be disaggregated to reveal local and rural evidence, thereby informing service planning.

The theme pages in this Toolkit provide more detailed rural proofing material about six topics.  They are intended to help those who carry out a rural proofing review or assessment.