The hospital has long been a second home for Sophie Dillman – and for one of the best reasons.
The popular star was a registered nurse before she landed the ongoing role of bubbly newlywed Ziggy Astoni in Home And Away.
And while Sophie may be relishing every minute on the hit Seven drama, she certainly doesn’t harbour any regrets about her former career.
‘As a nurse, you meet people every day who make you want to be a better person, and I think that’s why a lot of people nurse,’ she reflects thoughtfully.
There’s no doubt, too, that 25-year-old Sophie has been able to draw on her medical experience for current scenes in which Ziggy is supporting her mum Maggie, played by Kestie Morassi, as she battles cancer.
This week, Maggie tentatively returns home after receiving treatment in hospital.
Yet with Maggie feeling extremely anxious about being discharged, it’s safe to say her homecoming is not exactly as her family had hoped.
‘Everyone is super-excited to know that Maggie is coming home and wants to make her feel as comfortable as possible, but it doesn’t quite go according to plan,’ reveals Sophie.
‘Maggie is so worried about picking up an infection and is very, very careful, not wanting to touch anything. But she doesn’t seem to be reaching out for any help.’
Sophie believes this can be a real concern for some patients and their families.
‘They are so careful in hospital, where there are so many precautions in place, and they may have been fighting hard for a long time,’ says Sophie.
‘But when you get home, it’s more difficult to take the same level of precaution. That’s hard on everyone – all the family wants to do is make the patient feel happy, safe and well, but that just takes time.’
Sophie reveals that Home And Away has a trained nurse named Wendy on set to provide guidance during scenes of a medical nature.
‘Sometimes I do chat with her just for fun, but Nurse Wendy is incredible at her job, so normally she’s the person I go to [for advice],’ says Sophie.
Now an ambassador for the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, during her nursing days Sophie worked predominantly in day surgery units, and also spent time on oncology wards.
‘It was incredible for me to meet such positive and resilient people,’ she says. ‘Anyone who can get through something like cancer is inspiring – they’re so strong and so grateful for everything they have. It’s hard not to be moved. Everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer in some way.’
So, could Sophie imagine one day leaving the world of television behind and returning to nursing?
‘I’m still registered, so anything is possible,’ she says.
For the full story see this weeks issue of New Idea, on sale now.