A day in the life of nurse Lisa Russell

Thursday, 27 January, 2022

A day in the life of nurse Lisa Russell

Lisa Russell is Discharge Coordinator at Mater Private Hospital Springfield. With 80 private beds as well as a day surgery unit, the hospital provides the local community in Greater Springfield with access to innovative healthcare facilities including four digitally integrated operating theatres and a cancer care centre.

Here, Lisa Russell shares her day.

05:00 am: The alarm goes off and I jump in the shower. I give my dogs, Bella and Chloe, their dental chew stick and a little tummy rub before popping last night’s leftovers or something easy into a cooler bag for my lunch and get ready to leave my house.

5:45 am: I get in my car and drive the 15 minutes to work.

6:00 am: I arrive at work and grab a quick coffee before checking emails. I love a good flat white, half strength.

06:30 am: Handover kicks off at the nurse’s station and I read all the patient notes to keep on top of what has happened in the last 24 hours. I also check to see if any new patients have been ‘snapped’ to rehabilitation, which means transferred from acute care to rehabilitation.

07:00 am: Wish the night staff a good day’s rest as they clock off.

07:15 am: I check to see if there are any new referrals for me. Patients are normally transferred from Logan, QE2 and Ipswich Hospitals and they often arrive at hospital in the clothes they were originally admitted with. Some people live alone with no family and can be unkempt. My job is to make them feel welcome, track down any family they might have and make sure they are warm and comfortable. Hospitals can be quite cold for elderly patients.

I started Catherine’s Cupboard at Mater Springfield with these patients in mind. Thin hospital gowns were too cold for the patients and the weight of blankets can be too heavy. They end up with limited mobility, which can lead to a risk of pressure injuries.

I started out by asking my family if they had any clothes that they could donate to the ward. I even raided my own husband’s wardrobe!

After talking about this with a colleague (Performance & Service Development Coordinator), we decided to reach out to Mater Foundation and Big W Springfield to see if they could provide more clothing and toiletries for those in need.

Big W now gives us $500 every March/April and September/October to refill our cupboards. It’s my job to see what we are short of, to restock supplies and to keep the cupboard tidy!

In addition to this, I also organise donation boxes for those less fortunate than us at Christmas. Last year we had a whopping 72 boxes full of gifts for residents of Regis Greenbank and this year we will be donating boxes to Keeping the Faith-Ipswich Homeless.

07:20 am: I look at my list to see which patients I need to prioritise — there could be patients ready to be discharged in the coming days and I prepare for this.

07:30 am: Every day is a different day and I don’t ever have the same routine. But I regularly check for any private patients that may qualify for rehabilitation in the home on discharge. I then send referrals to their health funds.

8:15 am: On Thursdays, I attend the Rehabilitation Case Conference for all the rehabilitation patients on the ward. We discuss their progress and goals from a medical, nursing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and discharge point of view.

8:30 am: I visit all the new patients and introduce myself. I have a chat with them to determine their social situation, community services, previous level of function and current level of function. This gives me a good picture on what services or programs they may need on discharge.

On Tuesday and Thursdays, I attend Length of Stay (LOS) meetings with fellow team leaders to discuss discharge dates and a plan of care for all patients who have been with us for more than five days.

9:30 am: I stop for a quick snack and take some time to rehydrate. Some mornings can be busier than others but I often get a bit peckish around this time.

10 am: I sit down to make some phone calls. I contact My Aged Care and relevant Aged Care Assessment Teams (ACAT) to find out if these patients have adequate approvals for required services or care. This can sometimes take an hour or more, depending on how many patients I have and who is on the phone the other side!

1 pm: It’s lunchtime! Having spent the morning doing paperwork, liaising with patients and families and making phone calls, I sit down in the tea room and enjoy whatever I packed in my cooler bag. I don’t sit for too long though — there’s always quite a bit to get through.

1:25 pm: I start arranging services for patients to return home. This can include personal care services, domestic care services or medication management. I also talk to respite and residential aged-care facilities about patients who are unable to return home after discharge.

2 pm: I do rounds with doctors where we discuss the length of stay for each patient. Sometimes we might have 20 patients in our care, but other times could also have a full ward so it takes a bit longer.

If a patient requires permanent admission to a residential or respite care facility and they don’t have the necessary approvals from My Aged Care, we coordinate the whole process for them from start to finish. This can include trying to find accommodation, completing paperwork, arranging Aged Care Assessment Teams (ACAT) to visit, assisting with Enduring Power of Attorney/ Advanced Health Directive (discussing advance care planning) and more. For one person, the whole process can take up to 8 hours, so things never stop.

4:30 pm: Time to head home and starting cooking dinner. Also time to give Bella and Chloe a pat.

Bella and Chloe.

6 pm: Sit down to dinner with my husband and then relax on the couch watching the news on TV. I love coming home after a big day at work and the best way for me to unwind is to have a long hot shower. On Fridays, I also like a glass of shiraz to help me move into the weekend.

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