Unlike any of our other wards, Wallaby is based in the comfort of a patient’s home.
Wallaby is a 32 bed ward, in which children are visited for and cared for by a team of qualified RCH medical and allied health staff who communicate regularly with the child’s primary treating medical unit.
The aim is to reduce the anxiety by treating them in their own environment where there is less disruption to daily routine.
Mark and Elaine told us what being a nurse for Wallaby ward is like.
Apart from not having to wear scrubs, how is Wallaby different to other wards at the RCH?
Elaine: Wallaby is different because we don’t care for a specific category of patient and we don’t actually work on a ward within the hospital.
Mark: We treat the child in their own home or temporary private accommodation. Children who are generally stable transfer to Wallaby to continue their care, enabling them to be treated in a more familiar environment, and allowing the family to return to some normality.
Can you tell us about the type of patients you care for?
Elaine: We care for a wide variety of patients including patients requiring once or twice daily IV antibiotics, daily wound care, chemotherapy, respiratory and cardiac patients, diabetes and eczema care, blood pressure monitoring, infantile spasms, and children who have spent an extended amount of time in hospital who need a bit of extra support or education to transition from hospital to home.
Mark: It would be better asking who we don’t see rather than who we do – that list would be a short one.
How far and wide do Wallaby’s services go?
Mark: Our own RCH staff cover Melbourne and suburbs to a radius of 50km. For children living outside that area, with a few exceptions, we cover all of Victoria by engaging other agencies.
What attracted you to working at the RCH and Wallaby?
Mark: I started at the RCH in 1987 and have spent 23 of those years at the RCH – I keep coming back! I have now been working with the hospital-in-the-home service for 10 years and love the variety. This work requires me using my ‘bag of tricks’ which I have accumulated over my time as a nurse, whilst learning more every day. I love having the privilege of working with families from all walks of life.
Elaine: I have worked in paediatrics for the whole of my nursing career and when I emigrated to Melbourne 10 years ago, RCH was the only hospital I wanted to work at because of its excellent reputation. I was attracted to Wallaby because of the variety, in both the patients and their conditions and in the areas I get to travel to.
What’s the most rewarding thing about your role?
Elaine: Seeing how happy and relaxed the patients and their families are in their home environment, and how grateful the families are for our service. It enables families to get back to “normality” without having to juggle hospital life, caring for other children and all the other routine activities that put pressure on them when they have a sick child in hospital.
Mark: Every day I am humbled by the adversity faced by families and their resilience. They welcome me into their homes and trust me to care for their precious children. If I can lessen their anxiety by providing timely, sensitive care then that is reward enough.
If you weren’t a nurse, what would you be doing instead?!
Mark: I think I would follow the lead of my good friend George Costanza and have become an architect or marine biologist.
Elaine: I would be working with children in some capacity, probably as a teacher.
If you’d like to learn more about Wallaby Ward, you can download the My RCH app here!