Rural Community-based Palliative Care: Improving Health and Reducing Disparities in Access and Services

Implementation Tool
April 2021


This toolkit presents a framework and tools to help health care organizations and communities design a community-based palliative care program to meet patient needs in rural settings.


Rural communities have unique needs and challenges when it comes to supporting individuals with serious illness. Historically, people in rural communities have had less access to palliative care services despite rural populations having disproportionately higher incidence of chronic illness than their urban counterparts. Stratis Health developed a framework, described in this toolkit, to guide organizations in developing palliative care capacity and services in rural environments.

About this Toolkit

This toolkit contains resources to support palliative care program implementation in four areas:

  • Community needs and resource assessment and building a team: Tools on identifying champions and partners as well as assessing community needs and gaps.

  • Foundational tools and resources: Tools to promote professional education and awareness, develop and enhance clinical skills, bolster community-wide processes, and strengthen community education and awareness.

  • Process development tools and resources: Resources to help interdisciplinary teams address the holistic needs of patients.

  • Service implementation and resources: Tools to identify target populations, collect and evaluate data, and expand services.


Health systems that serve rural populations may benefit from adopting the framework outlined in this toolkit to initiate and scale their community-based palliative care programs. The flexibility of these resources will allow health systems to take these tools and tailor them to their specific population and community needs.

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