Once a fortnight, Nazareth House residents get a pamper with a bit of patter.
Damascus College students attend the Mill Street facility to give the residents’ manicures but also have a chat where they can talk about their families or reminisce about their past.
Teacher and program organiser Patricia Brown said some of the residents don’t have regular visitors so the student pamper sessions can be their only one-on-one visitor for the fortnight.
Ms Brown said the idea originated with a group of year 11 girls in 2014, who attended the Mercy Connect program’s Seeds of Justice conference.
“They came back wanting to do something for the community,” Ms Brown said.
“The nurses love it – they can see the residents get a lot out of it.
“When we first started, the residents were very shy but now they’ll tell if they don’t like their nail colour and we get to know what’s going on in their lives.”
There are now up to 15 students who visit the residents, including VCE student Erin O’Beirne who said that being part of the program had also improved her self-confidence and interpersonal skills.
“I like the idea of being able to go in and pamper the ladies and get to know them and spend time with them,” Erin said.
“There are some regulars so we’ve got to know a few of them.
“We paint their nails and chat to them about anything.”
Ms Brown said Damascus College staff donated the products used in the program, such as nail polish and nail polish remover.
“As a Catholic school, Damascus College is committed to social justice and encourages an attitude of action for social justice and community service.
“This unique program also benefits the students as its gives teenagers the opportunity to make connections with the elderly, which is an important life and social skill.”