When working in a remote or rural setting it is vital to recognise the importance of access and how this impacts service delivery and client care.
Almost invariably remote and rural communities experience reduced access to health services, including allied health. Remote and rural communities are characterised by limited local health care services, limited private health services, and an absence of specialist services. The reduced access generally increases with remoteness, that is, the more remote the community the more limited access. Further access to the existing services is often disrupted by workforce shortages, and high staff turnover, which interrupt continuity of care.
The access to health care services is often compounded by several other elements of remote and rural life. Travelling distances for example, are often significant with population widely dispersed, and transport options limited and costly.
Access to health services is also affected by cultural factors. When working with Aboriginal people for example, access to the health service will be affected by: the appropriateness of the services available; English language competency; and a host of other issues. Refer to the Cultural Safety page for more information.
Health services have adopted several service delivery models that go some way to overcome these disparities in access, including Outreach, Primary Health Care and Telehealth. Refer to these pages for more information.
Access & You
The above summary highlights some of key issues arising limited access to health services, however to broaden your understanding seek out more information. Think about access within the community you work with:
- What access to health services do those within your community have?
- What factors impact on their ability to access the services available?
- How does this affect the way health services are delivered?