Historical information

This photograph depicts one of the forms of nursing care given by Melbourne District Nursing Service (MDNS), Sisters in the home of a patient. In this photograph, the Sister is visiting the home of a lady who is confined to a Negative Pressured Ventilator, also known as an 'Iron Lung', which assists her to breathe. The Sister gave both physical and emotional care to the patient, as well as support and advice to those who were caring for her.


The Trained nurses of the Melbourne District Nursing Society (MDNS), later known as Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS), visited patients in their home and gave best practice care in many fields of nursing, and to people of many cultures, throughout its 130 years of expansion. Initial visits not only assessed the specific nursing situation but the situation as a whole. Their patients ranged in age from babes, children, adults to the elderly and referrals were taken from Hospitals, General Practitioners and allied Health facilities. Some of the care the Sisters provided is as follows: – Post-Natal care given to mother and babe, Wound Care following various types of surgery, accidents, burns, cancer, leg ulcers etc. Supervising and teaching Diabetic Care, including teaching and supervising people with Diabetes to administer their own Insulin, and administering Insulin to those unable to give their own injections. Administering other injections and setting up weekly medication boxes. The Sisters performed Catheterizations on adults suffering from conditions such as Quadriplegia, Paraplegia, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Motor Neurone Disease (MND) and Guillan-Barre Syndrome, and when required at school on children for e.g. those with Spina Bifida. The Sisters visited those requiring Cystic Fibrosis support and care; those requiring Haemo-Oncology care, including visiting children at school; those requiring Home Enteral Feeding care, and those requiring IV therapy at home and home Dialysis. Palliative Care was given including pain relief with the use of syringe drivers, personal care as needed, and advice and support to both patient and family. The Sisters provided Stoma management to those needing Urostomy, Ileostomy and Colostomy care and those requiring Continence care. HIV/AIDS nursing care was provided; visits to Homeless Persons were made. Personal care was given to patients ranging in age and with varying mobility problems, such as those with MS, MND, Guillan-Barre Syndrome, Poliomyelistis, Quadriplegia, Paraplegia, Acquired Brain Injury, to those following a Cerebrovascular Accident (Stroke), those with severe Arthritis and those with a form of Dementia. When necessary the elderly were assisted with personal care and advice given on safety factors with the use of hand rails, bath or shower seats, and hand showers. Rehabilitation with an aim towards independence remained at the forefront of the Sister’s minds and when possible using aids and instruction on safe techniques enabled the person to become fully independent. All care included giving advice and support to the patient and their Carers. The Sisters liaised with the persons Doctor, Hospital and allied Health personal when necessary.

Physical description

Black and white photograph showing a Melbourne District Nursing Service (MDNS) Sister, who has short dark hair; is wearing a white gown over her uniform and her grey peaked hat with attached RDNS badge. She is attending to a female patient who is lying in a Negative Pressure Ventilator in her home. The Sister is standing behind the Negative Pressure Ventilator, known as an 'Iron Lung', with her left arm extended holding the lid open. The lady is in the foreground, and is lying with her head towards the left of the photograph. She has short dark hair and lies on the bed of the Ventilator with a neck ring visible. Her head is resting on a white covered pillow. Part of a dark coloured pleated curtain can be seen in the right hand side background of the photograph

Inscriptions & markings

Photographer's stamp