Celebrating our disability nurses
Northcott has a team of almost 200 highly experienced disability nurses who play a vital and unique role in the lives of our housing customers with complex medical needs. Today, as we celebrate International Nurses Day, we share insights from one of our Nurse Unit Managers on why she loves her job, and the important role her team plays in keeping our customers healthy and happy.
Inge Schuddeboom is a Nurse Unit Manager from our Specialist Supported Living (SSL) team. Inge manages around 20 Registered Nurses, Enrolled Nurses and Assistants in Nursing who care for and support 10 customers living in two adjoining Northcott homes in Bungarribee in western Sydney. Like herself, most of Inge’s staff are specially qualified in disability nursing care, which means they have unique skills to care for our customers with complex medical needs.
Inge says it is the in-depth knowledge of specific syndromes and intellectual disability, and the all-encompassing care her nurses give each customer, that differentiates her team from a team of hospital nurses.
“The work is largely the same, but as disability nurses, we treat the whole person – mentally, emotionally and physically. We make sure their environment is nice, we make sure they have connections with their family. We take them out for their general wellbeing. We make sure they take part in different activities so they don’t get bored. We make sure their food is right for them and we give them different options. We aim to give our customers the whole options of life while still making sure that medically they are being looked after,” Inge explains.
Inge’s customers have complex medical needs and severe-to-profound intellectual disability. They have very limited speech and most communication is through sounds, expressions and behaviours. Inge and her staff are very attuned to the little signs each customer makes.
“Being trained in intellectual disability, we can make the connections between what is happening to the customer and possible causes, therefore avoiding unnecessary complications,” Inge explains. “We also have a really long history with our customers, so we know the idiosyncrasies of each individual.”
Inge says one of the most rewarding aspects of her role is the connection she fosters between the customers, their families and her staff.
“We are very close with families and we are all like a family. We speak with families a lot. Not all of them can come here, so we ring them and send pictures. We put the phone to the customer’s ear. None of them can have a proper conversation because they don’t have that speech capability, but we can see their face light up when family talks to them on the phone,” she says.
In her 30-year career, Inge has had many memorable moments, but nothing is more special to her than seeing a customer recover from serious illness thanks to the high quality care provided by her team.
“For me the most memorable moments are when we have a customer come from hospital back home when they are really unwell, and we have nursed them back to good health. That’s definitely memorable,” she says.
We thank all our nursing staff for the hard work, dedication and care they provide to our customers. We couldn’t do our work without you all!
In May, a Northcott nursing team was named as a finalist in the HESTA Nursing and Midwifery Awards.
Our Specialist Supported Living service is for people with disability who have complex medical needs.