Leonie's 25 Years of Making A Difference

Leonie’s 25 Years of Making A Difference

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Tweddle is all about its people. Maternal and Child Health Nurse Leonie Cartan, who has been with Tweddle for 25 years, will often be seen offering a sympathetic ear or wise counsel to parents in challenging times.

Leonie’s extensive clinical experience, huge heart and measured approach are just some of the reasons why parents leave Tweddle saying their lives have been changed. We spoke to Leonie about her career, which thankfully for Tweddle babies, toddlers, parents and colleagues, continues today.

When did you start at Tweddle?

I started in 1996. It was my first Western suburbs job as a resident, having moved to Yarraville to marry and have our family.

What is your role at Tweddle?

Currently, I work casually 1-2 shifts at work on the Nurse Bank as Team leader in the Residential Unit.

What is your qualification?

I’m a Maternal and Child Health Nurse. I came to Tweddle as a Registered Nurse/Midwife and subsequently studied part-time to be an MCH nurse.

How long (on and off) have you been at Tweddle?

25 years – Wow, I’m always surprised that it’s been that long because it doesn’t seem like it to me.

What does it mean to you to work at Tweddle?

My daughters were 15 months apart so the first 2 years was a bit of a blur. They were 4 and 5 when I started here and I immediately wished I had known Tweddle existed when they were babies and toddlers and I could’ve used this support.

I don’t think anyone works somewhere for 25 years unless they really love the work and those they share it with. I think the work at Tweddle attracts good people and I’ve been fortunate to work with a great team.

My own situation has varied greatly over the 25 years and Tweddle has been a constant; offering new opportunities and interesting options along the way. Many of us feel a ‘family-like’ connection and that’s very true for me.

What are you passionate about when it comes to your work? 

For me personally, it’s extremely rewarding being able to see parents who are feeling stressed, alone and confused, progress through to be what I’d call, at the very least, ‘cautiously optimistic’. They may still be concerned about how things are going to go at home in the coming days, but they feel they’ve had support developing a plan, some practice putting it in place, suggestions for other support options and they are leaving feeling much better prepared.

You’ve been at Tweddle for a long time, how have you seen things change?

We were still in the Barkly St building when I started here, so I’ve made the move to the Adelaide Street site, the extensions there and now watch with interest the developing plans for the new build later this year.

I’ve operated in many different roles over the years, so have had the wonderful experience of participating in all of Tweddle’s services and some of the management roles. It’s very satisfying to see the importance of early childhood, parenting support and education gaining an increasing focus and funding politically but also with the community.

Technology is a two-edged sword. On one level, it has made our reporting and recording easier, but the dependence of parents on ‘screens’ both themselves and for their children can be concerning. It’s great to see parents keen to explore more play options and to help them with that.

What advice are you asked for most?

When does it get easier?

I tend to say that it gets ‘different’.  I use the analogy of parenting confidence being like a muscle and with each experience and milestone, parents are exercising and strengthening that confidence ‘muscle’ until such time as we reach the main game and they’re teenagers and we need strong parenting confidence and the children need clear boundaries. …But just like an athlete, you wouldn’t expect to run a marathon straight away.

Wherever they are on that journey, they’re further ahead than where they were before. eg bringing them home as babies – but they aren’t up to when toddlers realise there’s chocolate at the supermarket cash register, or managing primary school playground dynamic, or tall 16yr olds who will tell ‘You don’t understand Mum/Dad everyone is …!!!’ and then they’re 18 and they want to borrow the keys to the car! 😊

Anything else you’d like to share?

Parenting is a bit of a roller coaster ride but it’s the very best ride of your life and I feel very privileged to be able to support parents along the way.

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We are grateful to Leonie Cartan for sharing her Tweddle story with us. More recently Leonie has been combining time on Tweddle’s Residential Unit with Telehealth consultations, which she says has been a gift during a time that could have weighed very heavily on her.

“So you can see,” she said “While this is perhaps all about me, like many of the long term staff, Tweddle has indeed been there for us through our own life’s milestones.”


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