When COVID-19 restrictions locked down Bupa Aged Care Ballarat in March, physiotherapy assistant Hugo Crystal knew the residents would be frustrated by the loss of their normal activities so he “decided to do something about it’’.

Hugo, an amateur illustrator, started doodling about five years ago. He realised his drawings would be a perfect opportunity to socially interact with the residents.

He arrived two hours before his shift to talk with residents and start the initial sketches and continued working on them when he got home. Hugo said: “When a family member of a resident saw the illustration I did of them, they burst into tears … they were tears of happiness and emotion.’’

He spent his childhood in and out of foster homes and had no concept of family until he started working at the care home. He now counts all 144 residents as his grandparents.  

Ballarat Mayor Ben Taylor said Hugo had “no doubt brought a smile to many people’’ and Bupa CEO Hisham El-Ansary said through the drawings Hugo had helped residents “feel loved, listened to and valued’’.