International Nurses Day 2023

On International Nurses Day we recognise the wonderful work of our caring, professional, and compassionate nurses and thank them for their endless dedication to the care of our residents.

Leonie O’Brien is the Clinical Care Coordinator at Coorparoo Aged Care and she shares what inspired her to enter nursing and what drives her in her career.

Why did you choose to do nursing as your chosen career and what does it mean to you?

I chose to do nursing because I wanted to be equipped to provide comfort and support to people, especially older people, when they are unwell or palliating.

What do you enjoy most about working as a Clinical Care Coordinator at the home?

It feels great to be part of the nursing management team here at Coorparoo. We have a supportive team who care about the residents and the quality of the care that is provided.

What is the most challenging about being a nurse?

Constantly keeping up with the changes to legislation and the standards to ensure we remain compliant and continue to provide the best care available.

What is a special memory you have so far from your nursing career?

Working as a young nurse in South Africa, I worked as a community health palliative care nurse, based at a Hospice, and practiced as a private nurse practitioner for a while. These roles demanded a lot of travel and people support. I thoroughly enjoyed working in these capacities. I needed to build up trust with the doctors and oncologists so that I could call them at any time for permission to implement pain and symptom control strategies to ensure patient comfort. Unlike conditions in Australia there was no government support. The hospice I worked at was totally dependent on donations from the public. Patients and families relied on me for everything, including call outs during the night (even when it was unsafe to do so), consultation, advice and equipment.

I had some carers on my books and would arrange a fee consultation between the parties that would suit both the patient and the carer. Some patients were very poor but needed care support and some carers were desperate to provide food for their families, so a low acceptable fee was arranged between them. If a minimal wage applied (like in Australia), both the patient and carer would have suffered. I often had to improvise and carried items in my car such as old clean sheets, black plastic bags, spare food, soap, spare unused donated medications, and medical equipment (sometimes very old but usable, e.g. enemas etc.) to ensure patient comfort and support. Some could not even afford simple items such as food to have with their medication, bus fare to collect or pay for medication, a change of linen when it is soiled – a cut up black plastic bag with a cover sheet assisted with keeping under sheets clean and helped when desperate families needed to turn or slide a loved one into a comfortable position. It was sad but very rewarding to be able to help, without restrictions.

This was 20 years ago, and things may have changed but I value the knowledge I gained and the experiences I had. I moved to Queensland and then worked for a large Aged Care provider for 17 years in various clinical roles, including Management and Quality and Compliance roles. Three years ago I made the move to Coorparoo Aged Care after a short stint in a contracted Quality Support Role. I so enjoyed working at Coorparoo that when the Clinical Care Coordinator Role became available, I did not hesitate to apply. The entire team at Coorparoo work well together to provide a caring and supportive working environment.