SCIE Research briefing 22: Obstacles to using and providing rural social care

By Richard Pugh, Thomas Scharf, Charlotte Williams and Diane Roberts

Published September 2007


The comparative disadvantage that some rural people experience in regard to welfare services, education, employment, income, and life chances generally, have been well established and are succinctly summarised in a review by Shucksmith. This briefing does not attempt to provide an overview of rurality or rural communities, nor explore the wider context within which debates about rural provision might take place. Information about these aspects can be found in a range of relevant sources which are identified at the end of this briefing. Instead, the briefing focuses on some of the most common obstacles to using and providing health and social care services in rural areas.

Key messages

  • There is considerable variability in the provision of services to people living in rural areas but, overall, they are less likely to receive services comparable with their urban counterparts.
  • Rural services cost more to deliver than those in urban areas and a higher burden in the time and cost of access falls upon rural service users.
  • The needs of some rural dwellers, especially those from minority ethnic groups, are often neglected.
  • Efforts to ensure equity, in terms of the standards and levels of service provision through policy initiatives such as 'rural standards’ and 'rural proofing’, have had mixed success so far.


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