Providing care and community

Nurse and Care Manager Ash Scoular, pictured with twins and their mum in the Women's NICU, was awarded for skills gained in family centred nursing care to neonates.
30 June 2022 | Staff

A neonatal intensive care nurse at the Women’s has been recognised for her work breaking down barriers for LGBTIQ+ patients and their families.

Neonatal intensive care nurse, Ash Scoular has been awarded the Dr Laurence J Murton Memorial Prize for Excellence in Neonatal Nursing as part of the Women’s 2022 Nursing and Midwifery Staff Awards.

Commencing as a graduate nurse in the Women’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in 2014, Ash has continued to work in this specialist area due to the diversity and complexity of the role and the focus on caring for some of Victoria’s most vulnerable newborns.

Ash has been recognised for the exceptional support she provides all families, helping to empower them in the care of their baby. She’s also been recognised as a strong advocate for gender diverse families.

Advocate for diversity

Ash is passionate about the rights of all families, regardless of their ethnicity, sexuality or gender, to access high quality, comprehensive public healthcare without discrimination.

“People in LGBTQIA+ communities, especially trans and gender diverse people, continue to face a lot of discrimination out in the world. When LGBTQIA+ people come to hospital, fear of discrimination remains a big concern,” says Ash.

“Even if they’ve got a sick baby, they likely still worry about discrimination. Supporting LGBTQIA+ families is important and I like to provide connection to community inside the hospital so that they can focus on caring for their baby.”

Ash with the 2022 Dr Laurence J Murton Memorial Prize for Excellence in Neonatal Nursing.
Ash with the 2022 Dr Laurence J Murton Memorial Prize for Excellence in Neonatal Nursing.

Connection to community

Ash strives to provide that sense of community for all families when they spend time in the NICU with sick infants.

Babies who end up in the NICU will often be there for weeks or months. During this time, healthcare workers play an important role beyond caring for premature, sick babies. They provide connection and support for their families.

“You build strong relationships with families over many weeks or months of them coming to the NICU every day. Especially during the COVID peak when the people who usually support parents – like grandparents, friends and family – couldn’t be at the hospital, it became even more important to provide that support,” Ash says.

“You get to know families very well and that allows you to provide support through the hard times as well as celebrating the good.”

Education is key to inclusion

Ash says that breaking down healthcare barriers for LGBTIQ+ families is vital.  She says inclusive care can be as simple as using respectful, gender-inclusive language or providing visual cues of safety like rainbow flags, pronoun pins and posters. Staff at the Women’s can also readily access specific training.

Ash says working as a nurse with families from diverse backgrounds highlights the importance of learning about issues beyond your own experience.

“Respecting something you may not understand fully is really important,” Ash says.

“Expanding our beliefs around gender actually benefits everyone.”

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