Historical information

The Melbourne District Nursing Society (MDNS) Trained nurses (Sisters) are receiving their morning briefing from Matron D. Tupper before leaving their Headquarters at 39 Victoria Parade, Collingwood to go to their areas (districts) in the Melbourne suburbs to give nursing care to patients in their homes The Sisters averaged 30 calls a day each, mainly wound dressings; personal care, mostly sponges in bed; and injections (insulin and diabetes management).


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 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 five Melbourne District Nursing Society (MDNS) Sisters of varying heights standing in a row. They are wearing their grey long sleeve uniform dresses which have peaked collars, a pocket on the upper left and lower right, and white buttons down the centre. They are all wearing their grey brimmed hats over their short dark curled hair. From left to right is Sister (Sr) J Faust, who is looking down at a clipboard she is holding in her left hand which has paper held on it by a black bulldog clip. There is writing on the top sheet of white paper and she is holding a pen in her right hand poised near a section of writing on the paper. Next is Sr. M Sexton who is looking at the camera, then Sr. B Nunn who is looking towards a mainly hidden person on the far right. The next two are Sr E Blair, who has items in her lower pocket, and Sr B White who are both looking at the clipboard and paper held by Sr. Faust. In the far lower right corner of the photograph you can see the fingers of hands holding a sheet of paper. There is no further vision of this person.

Inscriptions & markings

Operator 59. Finisher 30