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Meet Hollie Purton, one of our Residential Care Supervisors in the Hume region! She has been working for Berry Street in residential care since 2014.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenging time, but Hollie and her team have been engaging the young people in the unit through social activities (including a BBQ disco night!). We spoke to Hollie about some of the challenges the team is facing, as well as the activities they have planned.

What drew you to residential care?

My desire to work with youth, specifically in the mental health and alcohol and other drugs (AOD) field, stemmed from my own struggles growing up. This has always been my passion.

In 2011 when I was working in a local hospital, I decided to become a nurse. My amazing managers supported me to get the education I missed out on as a teenager and my journey began.

In 2012 I was completing my nursing diploma, working at the hospital during the day and nights in the SPC Ardmona factory. After giving birth to my daughter, I completed my Cert 4 in Mental Health, then my Diploma in Community Services, Mental Health and AOD.

In 2019, I stepped away from nursing to follow my passions and started in a supervisor role in residential care. Now I am heading an amazing team facing all the challenges and rewards that come with working in residential care, but I’m absolutely loving it!

Describe a time where you've made a positive difference to a young person.

It’s hard to pick any single amazing moment but experiencing firsts with young people is what I live for. This could be as simple as going out for dinner, visiting other towns, going to the barber, or trying new foods. Seeing their excitement and pride after someone takes the time to treat them with kindness and respect is so rewarding.

For all the hard times, bad moments and struggles, that one smile or kind word is enough to keep me going for years to come.

Hollie Purton Residential Care Supervisor

Given the current situation with coronavirus, what sorts of challenges are you experiencing? How are you overcoming these?

COVID-19 is a scary prospect and brings a lot of uncertainty to the world. The team are focusing on solutions and drawing on the positives, rather than any negatives that are out of our control. We are working hard to educate the young people, following best practice and taking on advice handed down to help keep us all safe.

We are focusing on managing situations together as they arise. Portraying a positive approach as we would in our own homes is very important.

Tell us about the BBQ disco activity with the young people that was organised at the unit?

A few weeks ago, my colleague Bobbi, one of our young people and I were gathering supplies in Spotlight to keep us busy during this uncertain time. I noticed some party items on sale and suggested we have a dress up night. That’s how the idea of our BBQ disco night was born.

We made an invite for the 4 young people in the unit and spoke about it during the week leading up to the event. The team got straight into planning mode and were excited to deliver a successful night.

In preparation for the COVID-19 boredom buster activity, one young person helped shop for the dress ups, planned the BBQ menu and shopped locally to support our small businesses. One of our young people came back to the unit several hours earlier than usual for BBQ lamb chops (his favourite meal), which was amazing to see. We all enjoyed a good laugh, good food and great company!

What other activities do you have planned as a unit?

We are always planning exciting activities to promote engagement with the young people, but we are also working harder at the moment to be creative and keep clients entertained and occupied.

Some of the other activities that the young people are looking forward to include:

  • movie marathons with local take away delivered
  • a yoga and fitness evening followed by healthy eating education and meal prep
  • Sunday baking sessions
  • creative arts and craft workshops
  • an Xbox challenge - young people versus staff
  • pamper sessions.

Do you have any advice for other residential care workers?

Stay consistent and have fun by focusing on the positive and not the negative!

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*Name has been changed in the interest of privacy.