Supporting quality aged care in rural and remote Australia

In this partner post, we profile the Rural Locum Assistance Program (Rural LAP) and the opportunity for regional and remote aged care providers to use the service to find suitable locums to fill positions. Rural LAP is a partner of the 2023 Future of Ageing Awards – Entries are open until August 4 –

Access to quality aged care services is a fundamental right for all older Australians, regardless of geographic location. However, providing consistent and reliable care has been challenging in rural and remote areas due to workforce shortages and high turnover rates. The Australian Government recognised this issue and expanded the Rural LAP to ensure continuity of care and address workforce gaps in rural and remote aged care.

Rural LAP focuses on supporting aged care facilities in rural and remote Australia that experience sudden departures, annual leave, and training gaps. The program is administered by Aspen Medical, a trusted healthcare solutions provider, to find suitable locums who can seamlessly fill in these positions, thereby ensuring uninterrupted service delivery for older residents in rural and remote Australia.

The program covers several eligible positions, including registered and enrolled nurses, residential aged care facility managers, care coordinators, care support workers, community support workers, personal care workers, and other Aged Care professionals. By providing access to a temporary locum workforce, Rural LAP enables aged care services to bridge staffing gaps while they recruit permanent team members. Not only is the quality of care maintained, but the program also ensures that new team members are well-prepared to undertake locum placements or permanently relocate to these areas.

One advantage of Rural LAP Aged Care is the provision of relocation incentives and retention bonuses. These incentives aim to attract and retain aged care workers in Modified Monash (MM) locations 4-7, which include rural and remote areas. Aged Care Workers who accept permanent positions in these regions are eligible for a one-time payment of up to $16,500 to cover the immediate relocation costs. Additionally, they may receive annual retention bonuses of up to $3,700 (MM 4) or $6,000 (MM 5-7) for two years following their relocation and permanent employment.

Rural LAP handles all administrative tasks associated with securing locums, including arranging and covering travel, accommodation, and incentives for the locums during their placement. Aged care services are only responsible for paying the usual wages, including penalties, superannuation, and applicable taxes, removing any financial burden from aged care facilities and making it simple to access the support they need.

Rural LAP also recognises the importance of timely requests and provides flexibility in the application process. A request for a locum requires a minimum of two weeks’ notice, but short-notice applications are on a case-by-case basis. The program aims to accommodate the needs of aged care services while ensuring the availability of suitable locums.

Rural LAP’s role is crucial in addressing workforce challenges in rural and remote locations and supporting quality aged care for older Australians in these areas. The program’s commitment to continuity of care, professional development, and recruitment assistance enhances the well-being of older individuals and the sustainability of aged care services in rural and remote Australia.

If you are an approved aged care service operating in MM 4-7 areas and require locum support or wish to explore the permanent relocation and retention incentives, reach out to the Rural LAP Aged Care team at 1800 861 819 or for more information and assistance. Together, let us ensure that every older Australian, regardless of location, receives the quality care they deserve.


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