Remembering the First Blue Nurse, Sister Olive Crombie, as BlueCare Marks 70 Years in West End

Sister Olive Crombie
Sister Olive Crombie (Photo credit: BlueCare/Facebook)

Did you know that BlueCare started in August 1953 when Sister Olive Crombie, the first Blue Nurse, began making home visits to offer free nursing assistance to vulnerable people in West End?


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This groundbreaking initiative was launched by the West End Methodist Mission, led by Reverend Arthur Preston with support from Sister Kathleen Anderson and other civic-minded citizens. 

Moved by the hardship he witnessed during the Depression, Rev Preston recognised the dire need for in-home care in the post-war era when public health services were extremely limited.

Sister Olive Crombie
West End Methodist Mission (Photo credit: BlueCare/Facebook)

Sister Olive Smith nee Crombie had just completed her obstetrics training in Melbourne when she received a letter from Rev Preston. At the time, she was not only in charge of the new Blue Nursing Service – she was the only sister leading the organisation’s efforts.

She dedicated herself to the role from day one, despite the job initially paying for just three weeks. The demand proved Rev Preston right – within a year, Blue Nursing had grown into a 24/7 operation, and had more part-time nurses assisting Sister Crombie.

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What began as a small church outreach is now the trusted aged care and retirement provider BlueCare, still part of the UnitingCare Queensland family. 

Cathay Thomas, Group General Manager Blue Care at UnitingCare Queensland, said they are proud to be continuing the wonderful work that Rev Preston and Sister Olive Crombie began all those decades ago.

“We’re not only dedicated to continuing to change the face of aged care in Queensland for the better, but to do this with the compassion and kindness for which we’ve always been renowned. It’s why we’ve been trusted for generations,” Ms Thomas said.


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With the same spirit of compassion, BlueCare remains committed to improving senior care across Queensland.

Sister Olive Crombie
Sister Crombie (Photo credit: BlueCare/Facebook)

Meanwhile, Sister Olive Crombie went on to serve as Director of Nursing in Ipswich until retiring with her husband Ed to a BlueCare retirement village on the Gold Coast. Even in retirement, she continued volunteering at Crossroads and Barnabas House. Sister Crombie passed away in 2018 at the age of 88, after dedicating her life to compassionate nursing care.

Published 25-August-2023