We are family

Barry Elkins has one of those faces that just make you smile. His relentless positivity is what resonates with most people; that and his inclination to see the funny side of every situation. It�s an admirable outlook for anyone to have, let alone someone who has faced considerable personal and emotional challenges.

In 1964, when Barry Elkins was  24 years old, a tough decision  had to be made. Barry�s  parents had both passed away  and while his three young sisters  were caring for him as well as  they could, they couldn�t do it all. Barry has cerebral palsy among other serious medical  conditions, and needs constant high-level care � care that his family and his small hometown were finding increasingly difficult to provide.

Known affectionately as �Frog�,  Barry hails from Frogmore, New South Wales � a town of  approximately 380 people set  in classic Australian bushland. Though picturesque, the town is remote and lacks capacity for residential high-care support.  70 kilometres east lies the  town of Young. Renowned for  its beauty, its cherries and its welcoming country community,  Young is also a town supported  by the Sisters of Mercy. 

The Sisters of Mercy have been  active in Young since 1859,  managing the town�s hospital,  Mercy Care Centre Young and  residential aged care facility,  now called Mercy Place Mount  St Josephs. The Elkins family  felt that Barry would be well  cared for by the Sisters and on 18  February 1964, Barry moved in.  That was 50 years ago. 

�For the past 50 years I have  called Mt St Joseph�s my home,�  wrote Barry (via his sister Fay)  in a letter to staff. �As a young  bloke, coming to live here was  very daunting. With the presence  of the Sisters of Mercy, especially  Sr Leo, Mount St Joseph�s soon  became my home. 

�I have met many people over  the 50 years and while I have  forgotten some of their names,  I will never forget how they  made me feel: so welcome and  comfortable. In fact, I now keep  company with some of the past  staff who have become my  fellow residents.� 

 

Barry Elkins 

Barry Elkins 

 

While Barry�s optimism and  humour have played a crucial role  in making his journey a positive  one, Barry�s sister Fay says that  the compassionate care Barry  receives on a daily basis at Mercy  Place Mount St Joseph�s has  brought great comfort to Barry  and his entire family. 

�We�ve seen so many changes  over the last 50 years, but  nothing has altered the level  of care that Barry receives  here,� says Fay. �The staff  and the Sisters of Mercy have remained so faithful to their  mission, continuing the work of  Catherine McAuley. There really  aren�t enough words to say how  thankful we are. The staff and  the Sisters are just beautiful, and  have cared for Barry like family.� 

�Family� is also how staff and  fellow residents describe Barry,  Fay, and everyone who has  been involved in Barry�s life. 

A 50th anniversary celebration  was recently held for Barry at  the home, and according to  all who attended, it felt like  a family reunion. 

�Many of our staff have known  Barry since he was a young man,�  says Marie Ricketts, Service  Manager. �We understand  him, though his ability to  communicate is limited. Of course Barry has emotional and  personal struggles from time  to time, but staff are quick to  reassure him and make sure he  enjoys each and every day. This  is Barry�s home and we really do  feel that he is family � we are  one big, extended family.� 

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