Delivering aged care in rural and remote settings

Accessing and providing aged care in rural and remote communities presents unique challenges. We are supporting providers to deliver safe and quality services for older people in rural and remote locations. Find out what support and resources are available.

About rural or remote settings

Rural and remote settings are defined by the Modified Monash Model (MMM). They range from large rural towns (MM 3) to very remote locations (MM 7).

You can find your location’s MM number by searching the Health Workforce Locator.

Aged care in rural and remote communities

More than 1 in 3 older Australians live in regional, rural or remote communities.

The more remote the location, the less likely older people are to access aged care.

Even though older people make up a greater part of the population in rural communities, fewer aged care services are available than in major cities.

Viability support for rural and remote providers

Remote and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Aged Care Service Development Assistance Panel (SDAP)

SDAP panel members work with you to improve the way you govern, deliver and administer services.

They offer off-site mentoring and on-site training in:

  • provider capacity and support
  • sector development
  • infrastructure project management.

If you are an aged care service provider, you must either:

  • be located in a MM 5, 6 or 7 location
  • provide services to a large number of First Nations people anywhere in Australia.

This includes providers who:

To be eligible, your organisation must:

  • be an approved aged care provider with a National Approved Provider System ID
  • not be a state government entity
  • provide residential or home care. 

Providers will be considered on a case-by-case basis for the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP).

Providers who are experiencing financial difficulties will be given priority.

Market Adjustment Program

The Market Adjustment Program provides funding to support continuity of care for your residents. Support can help you to:

  • manage a closure, transition or sale
  • get help if you are in financial crisis or facing insolvency
  • improve your business.

To be eligible, you must:

  • provide residential aged care
  • be invited to apply.

We will prioritise support based on:

  • service location, such as rural and remote location
  • whether alternative services are available
  • size
  • service specialisations
  • community contribution of the service – for example, employing local people.

Workforce support for rural and remote providers

Rural Locum Assistance Program (Rural LAP) Aged Care

Rural LAP Aged Care helps rural and remote providers experiencing high turnover or workforce shortages by providing a locum while recruitment takes place. Locum support is also available while staff take leave and for continuing professional development.

There are no fees or charges. The program covers locums’:

  • recruitment costs
  • travel
  • accommodation
  • incentives while on placement.

The aged care service is responsible for paying the locum’s hourly wage (including penalties, superannuation, and applicable taxes) for the placement period.

The program supports key personnel, including:

  • registered nurses
  • enrolled nurses
  • facility managers
  • care coordinators
  • care support workers
  • personal care workers
  • other eligible aged care workers.

Support services are available for all types of aged care located in rural and remote areas based on their MM rating, including:  

Relocation Incentive and Retention Bonuses

Through Rural LAP, aged care workers who relocate from a MM 1 to 3 location to a MM 4 to 7 location may be eligible for a one-off payment of up to $16,500.

They may also be eligible for an annual retention bonus of up to $3,700 (MM 4) and up to $6,000 (MM 5 to 7) for 2 years after they relocate and start permanent employment with a rural or remote aged care service.

Home Care Workforce Support Program

We are funding 6 organisations and consortia to support home care providers to attract, train and retain new and existing workers in home care.

The aim is to grow the national home care workforce by 13,000 workers with specific funding allocated to assist rural and remote communities.

From 1 June 2023, additional support is being given to providers of other care types including:

  • residential aged care
  • disability support
  • veterans’ care
  • CHSP providers in MM 3 to 7.

These additional services will ensure ageing Australians can receive the care they need at home, no matter where they live.

Fee-Free TAFE and vocational education

A total of 180,000 Fee-Free TAFE and vocational educational places are available for courses in sectors experiencing skill shortages or growth areas, including aged care.

These places are available to:

  • First Nations peoples
  • young people aged 17 to 24 years
  • people who are out of work or receiving income support payments
  • unpaid carers
  • women facing economic insecurity
  • women studying in non-traditional fields
  • people with disability
  • certain categories of visa holders.

Check with your state or territory for more eligibility information.

Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme

The PALM scheme allows eligible Australian businesses to hire workers from 9 Pacific islands and Timor-Leste when there are not enough local workers available.

To be eligible to join the PALM scheme, you must:

  • be an eligible business registered and operating in Australia
  • not be an individual, sole trader or unincorporated company
  • be located within an eligible rural or regional postcode.

See the full list of eligible postcodes.

Aged Care Registered Nurses’ Payment

This payment is available to registered nurses working in residential aged care, home care and CHSP settings. Registered nurses who work for the same aged care employer continuously for 6 or 12 months are eligible.

Nurses who work in MM 3 to 7 communities are eligible for an additional payment of up to $2,300. 

Aged Care Research and Industry Innovation Australia (ARIIA)

ARIIA is a collaborative source of expertise, knowledge and transformative opportunities for aged care:

  • workforce
  • providers
  • researchers
  • suppliers
  • consumers
  • innovators.

Aged Care Workforce Remote Accord

The Remote Accord is made up of employers and experts delivering aged care services in remote and very remote areas of Australia. It acts as a platform for industry to engage on remote aged care workforce issues.

The Remote Accord aims to achieve an adequate, appropriately trained and supported workforce to meet the care needs of older people living in remote and very remote communities.

It connects remote services and communities to better understand and share:

  • challenges facing the workforce
  • what more can be done
  • what works well.

The Remote Accord distributes helpful information to services in MM 6 to 7.

You can request to be added to the distribution list.

Infrastructure support for rural and remote providers

Aged Care Capital Assistance Program (ACCAP)

ACCAP provides grants for infrastructure projects that will maintain or increase access to quality aged care services for people:

  • from First Nations communities
  • living in regional, rural and remote areas
  • who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless
  • who have other complex and diverse needs, including dementia.

We advertise ACCAP grant opportunities through GrantConnect, including eligibility criteria.

GrantConnect

We advertise all grant opportunities through GrantConnect. Eligibility to apply and receive grant funding varies.

Other supports and resources

Governing for Reform in Aged Care

Governing for Reform in Aged Care provides participants with in-depth learning into leadership and governance challenges as they apply to their own context.

All members of governing bodies and executives of Australian Government-funded residential and home care approved providers are eligible to enrol in the program.

Aged Care Engagement Hub

See our Aged Care Engagement Hub for information on reforms, and opportunities for engagement.

Aged care newsletter

Stay up to date by subscribing to aged care newsletters for providers, workers and older people.

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