Historical information

This photograph is taken in Mrs. McDonald's home and she is reading information provided to her by Sister Faye Cook of the Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS) who is visiting to provide her with nursing care. Written communication is required between Mrs. McDonald and Sr. Cook.


Sisters from the Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS) used various means to communicate with their patients who had various health conditions. Sometimes this was by written word, using interpreters or using digital devices.
The RDNS Education department wrote instructions for patients to follow for various conditions and treatments to assist them in their care. The attending Sister discussed the instructions and left the leaflet with the patient. Examples of instruction included on how to sterilize dressings and equipment in the home and another giving information and instructions on diabetic care..
Education was an integral part of Melbourne District Nursing Society (MDNS), from its inception in 1885, later, in 1966, called Royal District Nursing Service, (RDNS). From 1885, only Trained Nurses (Nurses) who trained through the Hospital training system were employed by the Society, and on visits to patients they taught the necessity of hygiene and cleanliness, as well as the need for a good diet, to bring about good health. Doctor’s lectures were later given at the MDNS home to instruct patients and their families on prevention of disease. Education to patients continued throughout the years regarding health care and the use of equipment in the home.
In 1961, Education programs commenced at MDNS with their Trained nurses (Sisters) receiving In-service education. Sr. Pat (Paddy) Rowley was a leader in this In-service Education and established the MDNS, later called RDNS, Department of Community Nursing Education in 1962. Staff could also apply for scholarships to further their education outside of RDNS. Many of their senior Sisters received Postgraduate diplomas from the College of Nursing in Community Health Nursing, Education, and Administration, and several travelled overseas visiting nursing organizations viewing their public health and district nursing systems.
Many programs were run at RDNS, including: a Post Basic Course, Cardiac Rehabilitation Nursing, Haematology/Oncology Nursing, Palliative Care program, Diabetic Stabilization Program, Leg Ulcer Management Program, Wound Care Specialist Program, HIV/AIDS Nursing Care, Cystic Fibrosis Home Support, Veterans Home Care Program, Breast Cancer Support Program, Continence Management Program, Stomal Therapy Program, In-Home Lactation Support Program and the Homeless Persons Program. RDNS staff attended several hospitals to observe and learn special care needed to some clients, e.g. to the Austin Hospital to learn the care required for paraplegic and quadriplegic clients at home, and to Mount Royal Hospital to observe the care of clients in the Rehabilitation ward. A Community Nursing Education Program was extended to student nurses from hospitals and to other nursing organizations.
These Education programs kept the RDNS Sisters abreast of new techniques, such as changes in technology for e.g. new testing methods in detecting glucose levels in Diabetic patients. Sr. Nan Deakin did a Post Basic Course in Psychiatric Nursing and included this area in her education lectures. Sr. Daphne Geldard specialized in the area of Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia. These Sisters visited patients in District areas with the regular RDNS Sister when required. Every member of staff, both professional and non professional staff, received regular education in the Education Department.
In 1980, a Home Health Aide pilot study, funded by the Federal Government, the Brotherhood of St. Laurence and RDNS, with the program written and taught by Sr. Rowley, was evaluated as successful, and Home Health Aides were employed and worked in RDNS Centres under the supervision of the RDNS Registered Nurses.

Physical description

Coloured photograph of Sister Faye Cook of the Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS), sitting with Mrs McDonald who is reading the top page of a white writing pad. On the left, sitting 'side on' looking at Mrs McDonald, is Sister Cook who has short dark hair, and is wearing her pale blue RDNS apron over her RDNS royal blue V neck tunic style frock which is over her short sleeve white blouse; she is wearing blue stockings. She is seated on a striped low stool in Mrs. McDonald's room. Mrs.McDonald is to her right, and is seated in a bone and brown patterned lounge chair with wooden arms. She has a bone coloured wrap over her hair, and is wearing a dark brown V neck jumper over a deep pink frock. She is hoding a magnifying glass in her right hand and is reading information on a white writing pad which she is holding in her left hand. In the rear of the photograph is a gas type fire set into a fireplace. A white cupboard with a drawer is seen to the right hand side. The wall behind is vertical boards.

Inscriptions & markings

Red coloured 'Kodak' stamps.
Handwritten information.