About Lyn

Lyn Howells is Registered Nurse at Caboolture Hospital specialising in paediatrics.  She has been a nurse since 1972.

Lyn Howells

Young nurses ask what changes I have seen. I started as a young 17-year-old undertaking hospital training, where many sisters and senior nurses treated us junior nurses quite badly and nowadays would be called bullies. 
If the corners of the beds weren't done properly or dressings not quite right, beds were stripped and dressings redone and we were yelled at in front of patients. 
On the other hand there were many awesome mentors over the years for whom I am very grateful for guidance, compassion and respect.
On reflection, there was a fair bit of what we now understand as unsafe practices in my earlier years of nursing.
For example, a second-year nurse would be left caring for two unconscious patients on a Birds ventilator by herself. 
Patients smoked in the wards with oxygen cylinders close by. 
We’d mix methylated spirits and oil together for back rubs.
Extra camp beds were slotted in for patients when wards were full. There were no nurse-to-patient ratios. 
Nurses would lift heavy patients, resulting in life-long back injuries. There were no wardsman, no lifting equipment, no training for safe practices.
Nurses often took patients down to the morgue on a trolley with no straps at night (losing one once off the trolley!).
We’d treat nasty necrotic bedsores with eusol packs and heat lamps.
Glass syringes and metal needles were sterilised in disinfectant then reused. 
We also had to roll up cotton balls, cut up combines for sterilisation, and roll up washed bandages for reuse.   
Ward round cleaning included emptying sputum mugs and ash trays, cleaning lockers and bed tables. 
Thankfully, with evidence-based practice, nursing care has made progress in leaps and bounds, ensuring good patient outcomes and less domestic duties for nurses.
The disposable era introduced waste that has an impact on the environment, but equipment is squeaky clean, and thankfully recycling is now done.
The computer age also made a huge difference to nursing in every area, something we would never have dreamt about all those years ago. 
Modern technology made a huge difference to prompt diagnosis and treatment for clients, and new policies, procedures, education, training, best practice, university training, and ancillary staff have all attributed to better working conditions for hospital staff and safer hospital stays for our clients. 
We are also treated with respect, and we value integrity and knowledge sharing, which us older nurses enjoy passing on to the next generation of nurses.



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