Historical information

RDNS Sr. Clare McHugh is attending Mr. Stevenson in his home to give him nursing care. She is about to fasten the wheelchair safety belt across Mr. Stevenson's lap to ensure he does not fall out of the wheelchair.


The Trained nurses (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. The RDNS Trained nurses (Sisters) visited patients from many different cultural backgrounds, and Education was given to their Sisters to assist them when speaking with the patients and giving them care. 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 Amputees, those with MS, MND, Guillan-Barre Syndrome, Poliomyelitis, 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

In the centre of this black and white photograph is Mr. Stevenson, an elderly gentleman, who has balding light hair; is wearing dark rimmed glasses, and is wearing a black cardigan over a grey shirt. A small amount of his grey trousers can be seen. He is sitting in a wheelchair and is looking at the camera. He has a light coloured small blanket tucked under and over the stumps of his above the knee amputated legs. Standing behind his chair, and slightly to his left, is a lady who is wearing glasses; has wavy light grey hair and is wearing a dark grey cardigan over her light coloured patterned frock. Her right hand is seen holding the handle of the wheelchair, and she is looking down at Mr. Stevenson. To the right is Sister Clare McHugh of Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS), who is slightly bent as she has her hands on the left and right sides of the safety belt across Mr. Stevenson's lap. The belt is attached to either side of the wheelchair. Sr. McHugh has straight blonde hair; only part of her face can be seen as she looks at Mr. Stevenson. She is wearing a white gown over her uniform. In the left background is part of a brick fireplace with wood mantelpiece. A patterned plate and dark items are on the left of the mantelpiece and flowers are seen on the right. Above this, part of a square mirror can be seen. To the right, part of a lounge chair is seen and behind this, an open check curtain and part of a voile curtain is seen. The floor is covered with a light and dark patterned carpet.

Inscriptions & markings

Barry Sutton LW 6