Lizzie learns to… Care for the community

Written by Lizzie Macauley

It’s no secret.

The demands on the country’s public health system are stretched to an all-time high.

Patients are waiting longer than ever to be treated.

The incredible workers who treat them are stretched to breaking point.

It’s a bit of a mess for all involved.

So it was hugely exciting to meet with two women who have taken big action to help ease the burden at a local level.

Local mother and daughter duo, Sue and Nadine Dodd have become the Fraser Coast’s go-to service for home care at lightning speed.

It’s hard to miss them in their bright pink, flowery work car, and even harder not to smile when you see them.

Our Nurse(s) Next Door are going to make a massive difference to so many households on the Fraser Coast.

Sitting with them before we got to work, it was clear they had big ideas for all the different ways they could help our ever-changing community.

From offering retreat and respite facilities for clients and carers, through to expanding their services beyond care, it’s so clear they key word at the heart of everything they do is ‘care’.

As a nurse working in the public health service, Nadine saw first-hand where the gaps in service were appearing.

Setting up this fabulous home care service meant that more patients could recuperate in the comfort of their own home, and the pressure felt within hospitals could be lightened.

As someone who cares deeply about the Fraser Coast community, I was excited to hear that even just for a day I could be part of the solution.

What was most interesting, though, was how wrong I’d been about who the service was for.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s made the mistake of thinking home care services were more specifically for our more senior residents.

However, when we got to talking, the true potential of what they’ve created started to dawn on me.
There are times where all of us have needed a helping hand.

Possibly we might have resisted at first, but there is always a point where you can no longer ‘do it all on your own’.

The new mother who’s overwhelmed and simply needs a break.

The injured worker who would love to dress their wounds, but can’t quite reach ‘the spot’.

The widower adjusting to a new world order who can’t yet face the shops alone.

It’s not always easy to ask for help, but most times when we do, we look back and kick ourselves at how much better our lives have been, and wonder why we didn’t ask sooner.

The importance of what Nadine and Sue have created can’t be understated.

On the one hand, their growing body of qualified nurses and carers means a huge array of employment opportunities for locals.

On the other, people who need care can receive it with dignity in the privacy of their own home.

As enthralling as our chat was, eventually it was time to get to work.

My experience with Sue and Nadine is proof that even a simple conversation can hold a whole lot of value for someone – anyone – who spends the majority of their time on their own.

We met with the wonderful Rose, a gentle, kind-hearted woman with a smile that would light up any room.

While Rose was self-sufficient, needing very little support, we spent time connecting, getting to know each other and sharing our love of this region which has given us both so much.

I suppose the most powerful impacts of the conversation weren’t immediate.

But with time to reflect, I can see how both carers and clients get a lot out of these visits.

This was ‘it feels better to give than to receive’ playing out in real time.

Small, simple acts of care that have a profound effect.

Prepping the groceries for the week.

Spending time making a beautiful garden even more so.

Communing together on the front porch over a beautiful cup of tea, simply watching the world go by.

I realised through my time with Rose that not every minute of every day needs to be filled in order for that day to be valuable.

Sometimes a lingering moment is all it takes for your day to be made.

As we left Rose, I was so pleased to know that so many locals would be having a similar experience every day thanks to Nadine, Sue and the Nurse Next Door service.

I pictured the relief that so many would feel at the sighting of that bright pink uniform coming towards them.

I imagined the satisfaction that surely fills the heart of every team member with every interaction.

I thought towards the day that Nadine and Sue’s dreams of making their incredible service available to absolutely anyone come true (trust me, it’s on the horizon, and coming quickly!)

Being able to help others, and do it for a living, is not without its challenges.

But my goodness, what a fulfilling, noble pursuit.

I can’t wait to see what’s next for our ladies in pink.

It might be the We’ve Got You Foundation not-for-profit arm of their business.

It might be securing land for their respite retreat centre.

It might simply be expanding their services to ensure that anyone who needs it has the best care available.

Who knows.

But whatever that turns out to be, I know it’s going to be good for everyone.