A life of caring and positivity remembered


IN MEMORY: Jayne Yeomans passed away peacefully late last year after a 14-month battle with cancer. She is survived by her children Thomas and Hayley and a large extended family. Here, Jayne’s husband Chris and colleagues Dr Jillian Eyles and Lydia Chen share her story.

Jayne Yeomans was inspired to be a physiotherapist from a very early age. While completing a primary school project about future career options, her father, David, suggested she might like to be a physiotherapist just like her great aunt Peg Craig. That day, Jayne decided that a career in physiotherapy was for her, and in typical Jayne style, she never changed her mind.

Jayne graduated from the University of Sydney with honours in 1993. Royal North Shore Hospital (RNSH) was her first and only choice for her allocation year, and she remained at RNSH for her whole career. On her second day as a first-year graduate, Jayne helped the physiotherapists in the Spinal Cord Injuries Unit (SCIU) and absolutely loved it. So began her extensive physiotherapy career.

Jayne said that going to work with her spinal physio colleagues was always easy because she knew how much fun and laughter there would be. The truth is Jayne really set the tone, her love and laughter filled the place. Working in a quaternary referral hospital and witnessing people coming in with catastrophic injuries day after day requires a special sort of resilience.

Jayne’s positivity, empathy and sense of humour was one of her great gifts. At her farewell from RNSH in August last year, Jayne said: ‘It has been so satisfying to me to assist people in their recovery and watch people improve. I really do leave fulfilled, knowing I made a contribution in helping a lot of people, and that the work now is carried on by a very able team’.

Jayne spoke of the SCIU at RNSH as always being her first love. She also felt fortunate to work closely with friends and colleagues from across the extended spinal cord injuries community including Royal Rehabilitation Centre, Prince of Wales Hospital, The NSW Spinal Outreach service, Sargood, Paediatric Spinal Outreach, NSW Spinal Seating service and others.

Jayne had many great achievements over her career with the SCIU and physiotherapy department at RNSH. Jayne was an exceptional physiotherapist; she was the specialist physiotherapist in charge at the SCIU for many years. As an expert in her field, she presented at national and international conferences and served on many committees and advisory boards. Jayne implemented and managed the esteemed NSW tetraplegic hand clinic at RNSH with Dr Claudia Gschwind for 23 years. Together, they knew almost everyone in the state with tetraplegia, and they helped many improve their hand function.

Jayne was part of the team that implemented the multidisciplinary spasticity clinic at RNSH. This clinic was enormously successful and continues to help many people with different neurological disorders. Jayne was also an educator within the RNSH Parenting Education Team, and she taught many different classes including antenatal aqua. In addition to RNSH, Jayne worked in other roles as the highly valued physiotherapist for Ferguson Lodge SCI accommodation facility, Concord Hospital and the North Turramurra HammondCare centre.

Jayne was also a wonderful teacher and mentor. She taught many students from different universities and trained first-year graduates and rotating staff. The SCIU was one of the most popular rotations at RNSH largely because Jayne made any staff, from student to consultant, feel like an equal.

Jayne said she continued to learn from her students and colleagues throughout her career, something she valued greatly. Jayne made many of current and former SCIU colleagues feel incredibly passionate about physiotherapy, particularly in spinal cord injuries. Most of all, Jayne was a sensational friend, warm, loving, generous, kind and quick to see the lighter side of things.

Jayne passed away peacefully on 21 November 2019, following a 14-month battle with primary peritoneal cancer. Jayne is survived by her loving husband, two beautiful children and a large extended family. She will be greatly missed.


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