Will you be joining us at the 2024 Remote Nursing & Midwifery Conference?
23-25 October 2024, Naarm/Melbourne. We are now accepting abstract submissions. Click here to learn more or to register and access the early-bird discount.

A new face at CRANAplus, Laura Coldwell

7 Apr 2023

In this article, we introduce you to the newest member of the CRANAplus Mental Health and Wellbeing Team, Laura Coldwell. A UK-trained mental health nurse, with experience in sexual and remote health, we hear about Laura’s ongoing journey to better understand culture to support her clients; learn about her role at CRANAplus; and the importance of looking after yourself.

We rewind a decade to when Lau­ra was first intro­duced to remote health, tak­ing on a nurs­ing role in a men­tal health unit in Ade­laide sup­port­ing patients flown in from remote com­mu­ni­ties. From Leeds to learn­ing about the Aus­tralian bush, Lau­ra describes her tran­si­tion as quite the cul­ture shock”.

Lau­ra set her focus on Indige­nous health and pro­vid­ing cul­tur­al­ly appro­pri­ate care, com­plet­ing her post-grad­u­ate study of remote health in Alice Springs.

She has since spent time in the Kim­ber­ley and on the Cape, to bet­ter under­stand the needs and ways to sup­port diverse Indige­nous pop­u­la­tions across the country.

In the Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Islander pop­u­la­tion it’s real­ly inter­est­ing to see how [men­tal health nurs­es] work along­side tra­di­tion­al med­i­cines, bush med­i­cine, and tra­di­tion­al heal­ers,” says Laura.

[My ear­ly career was a] mas­sive peri­od of reflect­ing on my priv­i­lege as a white woman and learn­ing about his­to­ry. It was very, very eye-opening.”

At present, you’ll find Lau­ra divid­ing her time between her spe­cial­ty role of sex­u­al and repro­duc­tive health nurse in Lock­hart Riv­er in Far North Queens­land, and her new role as a Men­tal Health and Well­be­ing Edu­ca­tor at CRANAplus.

Lau­ra joined CRANAplus at the begin­ning of the year as a Well­be­ing Edu­ca­tor and she looks for­ward to draw­ing on her pro­fes­sion­al back­ground, as well as her own expe­ri­ences of the pres­sures of work­ing remotely.

Lau­ra (right) pic­tured with col­league Karen Koko, Senior Health Work­er at Lock­hart River

I think when you come from a place of being able to relate to peo­ple and what they might be going through, things are more sin­cere and are prob­a­bly a lit­tle bit more help­ful. Peo­ple feel a lot more val­i­dat­ed than from gener­ic edu­ca­tion that you might find online about men­tal health,” she says.

And I think that’s the beau­ti­ful thing about CRANAplus, right?” 

CRANAplus Men­tal Health and Well­be­ing team, includ­ing Bush Sup­port Line staff all have expe­ri­ence work­ing in remote loca­tions across Aus­tralia. Lau­ra says this is what makes CRANAplus sup­port par­tic­u­lar­ly valu­able; hav­ing the abil­i­ty to draw from lived experiences. 

There’s some­thing to be said from get­ting edu­ca­tion from peo­ple that have expe­ri­enced those things.”

Remote health clin­ics require the sup­port of many peo­ple and roles to func­tion well.

Rid­dell Beach, Broome, dur­ing a contract.

Lau­ra run­ning sex­u­al health bin­go in Lock­hart Riv­er, a great oppor­tu­ni­ty for health care work­ers to learn about dif­fer­ent sex­u­al health topics.

CRANAplus Well­be­ing Work­shops are avail­able to every­one involved in their oper­a­tion, includ­ing nurs­es, Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Islander health work­ers, doc­tors, allied health, and admin­is­tra­tion and drivers.

Obvi­ous­ly with­out all of those cogs, the wheel doesn’t turn,” Lau­ra says. All peo­ple, no mat­ter their role – their expe­ri­ence is super rel­e­vant. Every­one deserves access to men­tal health and well­be­ing support.” 

Lau­ra goes on to explain that look­ing after your­self when you’re work­ing remote­ly is not always easy, but it is important. 

Your risk fac­tors go up if you work remote. You’re more sus­cep­ti­ble to expe­ri­enc­ing men­tal health issues, increased alco­hol and drug use,” she says. 

A tip to begin is to look at the things you can con­trol, such as organ­is­ing planned leave, or sched­ul­ing an enjoy­able activ­i­ty for your next day off. 

What I tend to do is plan some things for the week­end when I’m home. Even some­thing real­ly small like going to the gym, or going out to the reef div­ing,” she says. 

Self-care is real­ly impor­tant: for you, but also the well­be­ing of your clients. As we say, you can’t pour from an emp­ty cup’.”

Lau­ra tak­ing some time out, div­ing in the South­ern Great Bar­ri­er Reef off Wil­son Island.

Reg­is­ter your work­place for a free Well­be­ing Work­shop, or browse the range of CRANAplus Well­be­ing Resources avail­able to down­load or order.