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Sunday, June 26, 2022

Rural Locum Assistance Program a great work/travel opportunity for aged care workers

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Aged care workers will now have the opportunity to receive subsidised travel across the country by signing up to do locum work in some of the nation’s most under-resourced rural facilities.

The Rural Locum Assistance Program (Rural LAP), funded by the Australian Government, has just been expanded to include an aged care funding stream, which will allow aged care workers to be compensated for providing surge workforce support in shifts of between 14 and 90 days.

An extension of the existing contract awarded by the Federal Department of Health to Aspen Medical, the program’s primary aims are to ensure that:

  • rural and remote aged care consumers experience continuity of care and clinical leadership;
  • rural and remote aged care providers experiencing high turnover or sudden departures of staff can access a temporary surge workforce while they recruit, and/or attract permanent staff;
  • new staff are available, suitable and well prepared to undertake a locum placement or permanent relocation.

Aged Care News asked Aspen Medical whether they believed there to be enough metropolitan workers available to sustain the program’s demand, but they declined to comment.

But for workers already on the books, locum work has launched the adventure of a lifetime.

Liam Correy, a registered nurse from Hobart, has travelled to more than ten different sites across regional Western Australia, and says the compensation for his travel has allowed him to explore the country to an extent that he never dreamed of being able to achieve.

“Travelling for work can be expensive, especially when I’m living between Tasmania and north-west WA, but to find an organisation that recognises this as a barrier and provides full support for travel to each workplace is a dream come true.

“I remember my first placement was at Yorketown Hospital, South Australia.

“I travelled with my surfboard just in case, and was lucky enough to get some waves on my days off.

“It felt like a real working adventure!”

Liam Correy is a registered nurse from Hobart who got the opportunity to explore Western Australia by working as a locum nurse through the Rural Locum Assistance Program.

Another participant, Lauri Buckingham, says that the ability to travel and meet and network with workers across the country made her appreciate her profession even more.

“One of the great pleasures I also find in this career is that, because it involves working with nurses all over the country, I have repeated experiences of inspiration at meeting so many genuinely lovely people.

“It is endlessly fascinating to discover the great diversity of nursing backgrounds, both privately and professionally.”

As with the original Rural LAP program, there are no additional fees or charges involved, with workers’ travel and accommodation paid for, as well as added incentives such as meal allowances.

Organisations that employ locum aged care workers are only required to pay the locum workers wages, without any added fees for accessing the surge workforce.

The hope is that by providing an accessible supply of workers, providers will be more willing to give their permanent workers the leave they desperately need and deserve.

The program also offers incentives for permanent placements, particularly areas ranging from medium rural towns to very remote communities (MMM categories 4 to 7), to increase staff retention in these chronically under-resourced areas.

Lauri Buckingham (second from left) says that her experience working as a locum gave her the opportunity to network with new colleagues, who inspired her and enriched her own skills as a registered nurse.

Elligibility criteria

Workers in the following roles are eligible to apply for the Rural LAP Aged Care program:

  • Registered and enrolled nurses
  • Personal care workers
  • Residential aged care facility managers 
  • Care coordinators
  • Community support workers
  • Allied health workers

Workers in both the residential aged care and in-home care sectors are encouraged to apply.

If you are interested in applying to be a locum aged care worker, you can follow this link to apply.

The application process will involve providing your personal information and qualifications, which must be validated by a witness: anyone over 18, and it is not necessary to consult with a Justice of the Peace.  

If you are deemed eligible, you will be added to the Rural LAP Aged Care Locum Register, through which you will be considered for hundreds of potential positions.

To find out more about the program and what life is like working as a locum aged care worker, follow this link.

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