Historical information

This photograph depicts a Melbourne District Nursing Service (MDNS) Sister administering an injection to a gentleman in his own home in the suburbs of Melbourne. The Sister is wearing the MDNS winter grey uniform short sleeve dress and grey wool beret with a central red Maltese cross. Glass syringes were used until the mid 1960s when plastic disposable syringes were then used.


The Trained nurses of the Melbourne District Nursing Society (MDNS), then Melbourne District Nursing Service from 1957, and from 1966 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, 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

This photograph depicts Melbourne District Nursing Service (MDNS) Sister Mary Maxwell administering an injection into the left upper arm of Mr Cannestra. On the left of the photograph Mr Cannestra is sitting on the padded arm of his patterned couch; he has his left arm extended. His head, which is bald with some white hair at the side and rear, is turned towards the Sister who is standing on his right. He is wearing a grey shirt and his grey trousers are held up with braces. Sister Maxwell is wearing a white gown over her grey uniform with the collar seen. She is wearing a grey wool beret with central Maltese cross, over her short, dark hair. She is standing beside the patient and her left hand is holding his left arm with his shirt sleeve rolled up to expose his upper arm. She is holding the angled barrel of a glass and metal syringe in her right hand and some of the needle can be seen against Mr. Cannestra's arm. In the background the wall is covered with a striped wallpaper, and to the right part of a long floral curtain can be seen. To the right in the foreground, a round dark tray with jar, small bottle containing the medication for injection, a glass and a white cloth, sit on a small round table with a white and patterned tablecloth.

Inscriptions & markings

La Trobe Street Studios. Reference number 59134-21