21 March 2008

Margaret Cluff RIP - a pioneer in Australian dependency treatment.

A Great Ambassador and Pioneer for Drug and Alcohol.

Margaret CLUFF (Nee WATT)

15 November 1942 � 21 December 2007

Margaret Cluff, Registered Psychiatric Nurse, suddenly passed away in December, after a highly successful nursing career that spanned more than 40 years.

Born on the NSW North Coast and raised at Tubulgum, Margaret was the eldest of six children. It was thought that Margaret entered into nursing after seeing her father suffering from a chronic illness and requiring long periods of hospitalisation.

Margaret commenced her psychiatric training at Macquarie Hospital at North Ryde in 1965 and then went on to work at Parramatta Psychiatric Hospital in 1968 and Wisteria House.

Working under the medical directorship of Dr Stella Dalton at Wisteria in 1971, whilst Drug and Alcohol was in its initial stages became the starting point of Margaret�s career. The development of this partnership continued over many years and Margaret enjoyed the challenges set by this innovative field. Of particular interest to Margaret were the younger people who were experimenting with opiates and then becoming addicted. She was concerned at the number of people admitted numerous times for detoxification of drugs particularly opiates and recognised due to relapse their long term prospects were limited.

Margaret at the same time was involved in the beginnings of the Wayback Committee. An organisation particularly concerned with the welfare of clients after discharge from hospital. Margaret�s belief in the methadone program and experience had shown her how dramatic an improvement could be made in people�s lives through this intervention. She continued to maintain her membership of the Wayback Committee.

As Nursing Unit Manager of the original Wisteria Community Health, then Parramatta Drug and Alcohol Service, Fleet Street and eventually Blacktown Methadone Clinic, Margaret provided a service which was non-judgemental and client focused. The ability to reach and have an understanding of the most chaotic clients and continue to advocate for them is what Margaret was all about.

Margaret treated each person she came across with respect and dignity. Her lateral thinking enabled decisions to be made after consideration of the impact for both the individual and the organisation. She supported the service throughout numerous changes and was an excellent source of information in relation to service provision. Margaret had acquired expert knowledge in relation to her role and the concept of Opioid Substitution Therapy service delivery. She was highly regarded and respected by anyone who had the opportunity to meet or work with her.

Margaret�s slight stature was no indication of the determination and strong-will she possessed. Margaret had her own unique way of approaching things; even in death Margaret seemed to do it her way. Retirement was never an option.

Margaret dedicated her career to advocating the effectiveness of the methadone program and improving client outcomes within the field of Drug and Alcohol. Margaret through her leadership skills and collaborative management style developed a team of staff at Blacktown that provide a service that is highly regarded throughout the area health service.

Margaret was an excellent communicator, always concise and precise. Her willingness and ability to share knowledge will be sadly missed. During her career, Margaret was a mentor and instrumental to the continuing education of professionals.

Through her �vision� for the need to change, Margaret challenged mainstream views. She played an integral part in facilitating a change in treatment to meet the needs of opioid dependent people which provided them the opportunity to change their lives.

The SWAHS Drug and Alcohol network has lost a valuable resource with Margaret�s passing, her wealth of experience and knowledge is irreplaceable.

With Respect

Written by Karen Scrivener R/N CNS
Blacktown Methadone Unit, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
SWAHS Drug and Alcohol Network
21st March 2008