Karys: My love of nursing (especially midwifery) part 2

Yesterday, Karys Fearon, a midwife at Gosford Private Hospital who has retired after 56 years of nursing/midwifery, told part one of her story. Today in part two, Karys and her family move from Wollongong to Papua New Guinea, to Tasmania, back to PNG and Tasmania again and finally to the Central Coast, with some truly dramatic stories along the way.

My husband Jon applied for a move to Papua New Guinea to teach at a Mission Teachers’ College, so we moved our family there in 1979. Only two weeks after commencing in a remote area in Southern Highlands Province, an aunty brought her very hungry 10 day old nephew, asking for bottles and milk. Mother had died during a severe asthma attack and baby was really hungry.

karys PNG

Papua New Guinea has a ruling that teats can only be supplied by doctor’s prescription because there is no refrigeration and no education on supplementary feeding. I told the aunty she would have to find another breastfeeding mother in the community who would feed this baby. Meanwhile, because I was still feeding my own infant, I gave the baby a couple of feeds while another local mother was found. A couple of weeks later the baby came back to me because the village needed to renegotiate compensation between families for taking on someone else’s baby to feed and care for!

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Posted in: International, Nursing - Midwifery, Nursing experiences
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Karys: My love of nursing (especially midwifery)

Karys Fearon, a midwife at Gosford Private Hospital, has retired after 56 years of nursing/midwifery. Karys was born in 1941 and began nursing in 1958. Her story reads like episodes of ‘Call the Midwife’ and ‘Love Child’! Karys worked many years beyond the usual retirement age and is now 73.

Her colleagues asked Karys to put together a story of her career as they thought many would be interested and inspired by her amazing life. Here is part one of her story.

I first walked up the stone steps of the historical Nightingale Wing to Matron’s office on 17 March, 1958, embarking on a nursing career at Sydney Hospital in Macquarie Street. I had no idea where this would lead me – the present was all I concentrated on all those 56 years ago!

For the first six weeks we were drilled in basic nursing skills in the Preliminary Training School, dressed in our stiffly starched uniforms, including the defining collar and cuffs of the profession. An evening each week on the wards gave us a vague idea of nursing 28 sick people in an open long ward, with four or five more, usually TB patients, on the open verandah.


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Posted in: Nursing - Midwifery, Nursing experiences, nursing history
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Anti-bullying seminars strike a chord

Recent seminars for aged care nurses on anti-bullying strategies proved very popular.

The July seminars, presented by the NSWNMA, were fully booked out at eight locations, including Parramatta and Springwood in the Blue Mountains. We know that bullying is widespread in aged care, affecting 77 percent of respondents to a survey earlier this year.

Some of the feedback for the seminars: ‘Very helpful’, ‘brilliant’, ‘excellent and informative’, ‘a great session that covered all the important issues’, ‘loads of information’, ‘very useful’, ‘made the boring parts interesting’, ‘fantastic, thank you for providing this course locally – I would appreciate other similar courses’.

Springwood bullying forum

Nurses at the Springwood seminar decide to ‘keep calm and stop bullying at work’.

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Posted in: Advocacy, NSWNMA, Nurse health, Nursing - Aged Care

Norma’s project: Preventing the sexual assault of older women

A new report sheds light on the role of nurses in preventing the sexual assault of older women. The report – called Norma’s Project – documents 65 stories about sexual assault shared by older women, their family members and service providers. Today, we consider three types of assault uncovered in the research.  It’s important that every nurse reads the Norma’s Project report because the silence around the sexual assault of older women creates a culture where it continues largely unchallenged.

Firstly, who is Norma?

Norma is 86. Since the death of her husband and son in 2002, she had been living independently at home with the support of her daughter and home support services. Norma was diagnosed with dementia in 2010. She was determined to remain in the family home although she did agree to occasional respite care at a residential aged care facility. One day, on return home from a respite stay, Norma was very distressed. She told her daughter she had been sexually assaulted by a staff member at the facility. The police and facility were notified, the complaint was investigated and the perpetrator identified. However, due to the absence of physical evidence, the lack of corroborating witnesses and Norma’s diagnosis of dementia, no further action was recommended or taken by the police or facility.

Normas painting

A painting by Norma.

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Posted in: Nursing - Aged Care, women
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Women Want to Know about alcohol and pregnancy

Today’s post is about the Women Want to Know program on alcohol and pregnancy and the role of health professionals.

Did you know that 97 percent of Australian women have said they wanted to be asked about their alcohol use in pregnancy? Most women visit a health professional when they’re pregnant for advice on a range of topics, alcohol being one. These visits present the ideal opportunity to discuss alcohol consumption and reinforce that not drinking during pregnancy is the safest option.


However, some health workers are reluctant to discuss alcohol with pregnant women, concerned that the woman may feel uncomfortable. Or they’re unsure what advice to provide and where to refer if necessary. A new national campaign, Women Want to Know, aims to overcome these barriers by educating health professionals on the effects of alcohol consumption during pregnancy to ensure that women are fully informed. Continue reading

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Posted in: Advocacy, Health, women
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