RDN recognises the numerous changes and challenges facing primary health care settings across Australia as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including growing service demands and concerns for the health and wellbeing of health professionals themselves.
We are continuing to support the rural health workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our efforts are focusing on providing support services to rural health professionals and communities, and moving to digital delivery platforms where possible to deliver our development and training offerings.
- RDN Virtual Health Workforce Register and Matching Service
- Online CPD and training
- Outreach services
- Mental health and self-care resources on #RuralHealthTogether
We recognise the importance of an agile and responsive health workforce during these rapidly changing and uncertain times.
Given current social distancing requirements, RDN is mobilising a telehealth workforce as a valuable resource to help communities in regional and rural areas of Australia maintain access to healthcare.
> What type of support is needed?
RDN is working with its partners and members to better clarify their needs. A clearer view of the type and level of support required will continue to emerge in the coming weeks and months. Some examples of support may, however, include:
- A General Practitioner or nurse based in their home town, providing telehealth consultations to a remote location.
- Practice Managers providing remote leadership and support to a site where a practice manager has been impacted by COVID-19.
- A recently retired health professional assisting in their area of expertise.
- Individuals with practice administration experience providing remote support to a practice where non-clinical staff are currently focused on implementing infection control mechanisms.
> Register your interest
RDN is seeking Expressions of Interest (EOIs) from GPs, nurses, allied health professionals, specialists, practice managers and administrators who can provide telehealth support to communities.
RDN will work to match individuals with sites that suit their background, skills and experience; look to provide upskilling and training in telehealth if needed; and offer onboarding support.
If you can help, please complete this Expression of Interest form and a member of the Workforce Team will be in touch.
Learn more about the Australian Government’s temporary COVID-19 telehealth Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) items.
RDN holds many training and education events throughout the year. To continue to support the rural health workforce, we have invested in webinar technologies to deliver this support online.
> 2020 Refresher Conference
Traditionally, the Refresher Conference is a face-to-face event each March. However this year we have enabled the Conference as a digital event to be held online on Saturday 28 March.
The Conference will be a free event for rural doctors, nurses, allied health practitioners and health administrators. It will include information on disaster response and recovery, COVID-19, mental health and palliative care.
The Conference has been designed to fit with health professionals’ busy schedules and will consist of 2.5 hours of live presentations, followed by three pre-recorded presentations, available for download at a time that suits.
Certificates of Attendance will be sent to all attendees for use with relevant professional bodies. The Conference will be accredited for GPs with RACGP and ACRRM. Upon receiving a completed evaluation form, RDN will submit accreditation on the GPs’ behalf until 1 May 2020.
> Health Workforce Scholarship Program
The Health Workforce Scholarship Program (HWSP) is available to support online learning including digital conferences, webinars and courses.
If you have received approval for a course or conference that has been cancelled, please advise the HWSP team by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
> Information for Outreach health practitioners, host facilities and subcontractors providing RDN-funded services
Whilst the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, current advice from the Department of Health, the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW and medical advisors is to maintain patient access to Outreach services.
RDN will support the continued provision of Outreach services when it is safe for the patients, communities and health practitioners involved.
RDN will uphold the principle of local discussion-making and support locally identified solutions to maintain patient access.
> Should health practitioners continue to provide Outreach services?
RDN will support the continued provision of Outreach clinics to maintain patient access to health services when it is safe for patients, the community and health practitioners.
RDN recommends you contact the facility/ies that host your Outreach services to discuss and comply with the facility’s infection control protocols.
If you are not certain who to contact locally, please see the key contact information below or get in touch with RDN’s Outreach Team for local or regional contact information.
> What alternative methods of service delivery will be supported?
RDN will support local decision-making and solutions to maintain access to Outreach health services as the COVID-19 situation develops.
The following options are recommended if local health facilities, Outreach health practitioners and/or RDN’s Outreach subcontractors feel changes to Outreach service models are needed to provide safe Outreach clinics:
- Explore alternative methods of Outreach service provision if needed, such as:
- Explore telehealth service delivery options, including technology and updated Medicare Items, to provide clinics where appropriate
- Consider safe modes of travel for Outreach health practitioners
- Frequency and length of visits, potentially fewer, longer visits
- Use of alternative rooms at host facility or another local clinical space
- Consider changes to workflow and visiting health practitioner induction to comply with the host facility’s current infection control protocols and/or
- Other locally identified solutions.
- Health practitioners and host facilities should contact the relevant local/regional Outreach subcontractor agency (e.g. ACCHSs, LHD, PHN or NGO) to discuss support for any proposed changes.
- Outreach subcontractor organisations and health practitioners directly contracted by RDN should contact the facility (e.g. practice or community health centre) to discuss support for any proposed changes, or contact RDN’s Outreach Team.
> Outreach contact information
email@example.com or phone 02 8337 8100.
Local/regional Outreach subcontractor partners
Outreach services currently funded by RDN and local partner subcontractors are (i.e. ACCHSs, LHDs, PHNs and NGOs) are listed here.
AH&MRC of NSW
ACCHS members with emerging operational concerns or queries in relation to COVID-19 can contact the AH&MRC team on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 02 9212 4777.
On #RuralHealthTogether you can find information and support for looking after your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.