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MEDIA RELEASE: Rural healthcare workers given helping hand to maintain their wellbeing during COVID-19

29th June 2020

nib foundation is providing NSW Rural Doctors Network (RDN) with $230,000 in funding to develop self-care and wellbeing resources for health professionals in remote, rural and regional communities.

Australia's healthcare workers have played an integral role in keeping our communities healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, long hours in high-stress environments are taking their toll on workers' wellbeing.Rural healthcare workers wellbeing-small

For healthcare workers in rural and remote communities, dealing with this impact can be particularly challenging. Research suggests the rate of access to mental health services in rural and remote communities is just 20% of those who access equivalent services in metropolitan areas.1 

RDN CEO Richard Colbran said the support was timely, with rural and remote healthcare workers in Australia needing to look out for their wellbeing now more than ever.

"For some time, rural healthcare workers have been caring for patients presenting with mental health conditions brought on by living through long-term drought and then bushfires," Mr Colbran said.

“Now the global pandemic of COVID-19 has placed more pressure on these workers. As integral parts of small communities, rural healthcare workers have little time to focus on their self-care.

"It's important that we look after the professionals who are caring for everyone else and often living away from their support network of family and close friends.”

The funding will allow RDN to grow avenues of support to rural healthcare workers and help them build meaningful social and professional connections.

"A series of wellbeing and self-care initiatives will be developed to address some key mental health enablers often experienced by healthcare workers in remote and rural communities, such as resilience, mindfulness, social connection and professional relationships," Mr Colbran said.

The resources and activities will be available to healthcare professionals through RDN's online platform, Rural Health Pro, which connects people and organisations who care about keeping rural communities healthy.

nib foundation Executive Officer, Amy Tribe, said that it's vital all healthcare workers have access to support services to maintain their mental health, no matter where they work.

"Through greater accessibility to targeted self-care and wellbeing information, support networks and resources, healthcare workers can prioritise their health and wellbeing, which is essential to the sustainability and retention of the rural health workforce," Mrs Tribe said.

"We’re proud to support these wellbeing initiatives as we believe it's important that our healthcare professionals take care of themselves and are supported to do their jobs well so that all Australians, wherever they may be, can continue to access quality healthcare services,” she added.

NSW Rural Doctors Network works with GPs, allied health professionals, nurses, midwives, practice managers, and rural medical and health students.

RDN supports the health workforce in remote, rural and regional communities through supporting the capability and capacity of health service organisations and implementing tailored health workforce solutions.

This funding provided by nib and nib foundation is a part of nib’s COVID-19 member and community support package and $1 million commitment to ensuring communities across Australia and New Zealand are supported during the COVID-19 pandemic.

[1] Psychology Council of NSW www.psychologycouncil.nsw.gov.au/increasing-access-mental-health-services-those-rural-remote-and-very-remote-australia

Download the media release [PDF 92.0 KB]

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