Historical information

A Medical Student is explaining the use of a bottle of testing tablets to a lady who is a patient of RDNS. The Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS) Sister is holding testing equipment; i.e. the eye dropper and test tube in the receptacle, in her hands, and is observing the Medical Student giving instructions to the lady. The photograph is taken in the lady's home.


Education was an integral part of Melbourne District Nursing Society (MDNS) from its inception in 1885, later called Royal District Nursing Service, (RDNS). Only Trained nurses (Nurses) 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 Trained nurses (Sisters) receiving In-service education. Sr. Pat (Paddy) Rowley was a leader in In-service Education and established the RDNS Department of Community Nursing Education in 1962. Staff could also apply for scholarships to further their education outside of RDNS. At RDNS many programs were run, 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. RDNS Sisters attended several hospitals to observe and learn special care needed to some patients, e.g. to the Austin Hospital to learn the care required for paraplegic and quadriplegic patients at home and to Mount Royal Hospital to observe the care of patients in the rehabilitation ward. RDNS moved its Education Department from 452 St. Kilda Road to 448 St. Kilda Road in 1974. 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 for detecting glucose levels in Diabetic patients. Sr. Nan Deakin obtained a Post Basic Certificate 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 Sisters.

Physical description

In the left foreground of this black and white photograph is the partial view of two metal 4 prong sticks.To their right, seated on a long dark vinyl type couch, is a Medical Student who has short curly black hair; is wearing a white hospital coat over grey trousers, a white shirt, and a tie with small black and white squares. A stethoscope is folded in the pocket of his coat. He is turned toward the right of the photograph and is holding, on its side, a small bottle in his left hand and is pointing his right index finger to writing on its label. An elderly lady who is wearing glasses and has wavy grey hair is sitting to his right and is looking at the label on the bottle. She is wearing a black skirt and black sleeveless jacket over a black and white patterned blouse. Her hands are clasped in her lap. Sitting to her right, and facing the lady, is a Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS) Sister who has her long dark hair drawn back. She is wearing a white short sleeve gown over her uniform, and is holding a white oblong receptacle which holds a test tube, which has dark fluid in the bottom, and an eye dropper. In front of her, is a white 'inner tray' which is clipped onto the front edge of an open oblong black RDNS nursing case which is in the right foreground of the photograph sitting on a long, narrow, low table. On the table and to the left of the case a small white hospital drape runs along the table.

Inscriptions & markings

Barry Sutton MA 24