Historical information

This photograph is taken in the bedroom of the man's home in the suburbs of Melbourne. It depicts one of the types of nursing care given by Melbourne District Nursing Society (MDNS) Sisters in the community. The Sister is visiting the man's home and is administering an injection which has been ordered by a doctor. Glass syringes were used by the Society until the mid 1960s and were re sterilized for future use. After this time plastic disposable syringes were used.


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 provided was: – 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. RDNS 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, Quadriplegia, Paraplegia, Acquired Brain Injury, 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

On the left of this black and white photograph, is a Melbourne District Nursing Society Sister who is standing side-on and leaning slightly forward as she administers an injection into the right upper arm of a gentleman to her right who is sitting up in bed resting against two white covered pillows. The male patient has short dark hair; is wearing glasses, and is looking up at the Sister. He is wearing a thick grey cardigan over a pale colour pyjama top which has dark piping; the lower part of his body is covered by a dark and light coloured check bed cover. The bed has a solid wooden headrest with a bed lamp attached to its upper right. The Sister who is wearing her uniform grey brimmed hat over her dark short hair, is wearing a white gown over her grey uniform, the collar of which is seen. Three fingers of her left hand are holding back the pushed up sleeve of the man's cardigan and she is holding a white swab between her thumb and first finger. She has a glass syringe resting in her right hand with her thumb and forefinger resting against the lower glass and metal section of the syringe; part of the metal needle is seen, the rest is inserted in the mans upper arm. On the far left of the photograph part of a dressing table mirror can be seen.

Inscriptions & markings

' Rough Proof' Latrobe Studios Ref No. 59134-8