Magherafelt care home recreates shop counter to help dementia patient

Florence Bell working in her shop in Cookstown.
Florence Bell working in her shop in Cookstown.

Many of our readers will recall the Mace shop at Union Street in Cookstown that was run for almost 40 years by Florence Bell.

It was an old fashioned ‘corner shop’ which literally sold everything a household would need back in the days when other shops in the town closed early.

Florence being helped in the shop at Magherafelt Manor.

Florence being helped in the shop at Magherafelt Manor.

Florence loved working in the shop and meeting her customers, many of whom would pop in just to have a chat with her.

She never married and continued working - and looking after her elderly mother - until retiring several years ago. Even then she found it difficult to part company completely with her working life and decided to hold on to her Mace shop sign and tunic.

Tragically Florence went on to develop dementia and two years ago became a resident of Magherafelt Manor - a care home which specialises in looking after people with the condition.

Although she doesn’t remember any recent happenings, the 82-year-old still talks about her time having the shop in Union Street.

Using this personal history Helen Caskey, a care worker at Magherafelt Manor, decided to recreate Florence’s workplace inside the manor.

Helen is currently doing a Champion Dementia Course, an advanced training course aimed at learning more about different types of dementia and focusing on person-first care.

“It’s the first time it has been done here,” she explained. “We find out about a person’s history to understand about certain triggers that should be avoided and to make a memory which is appropriate for the individual which was why setting up the Mace shop was ideal for Florence, as she has fond memories of her shop.”

With help from her relatives and Mace, Helen put Florence back in the world of her shop and she spent a morning recalling her times as retailer behind the counter.

Helen described it as “an emotional and important exercise” for all involved as it promoted dementia. She said that while Florence was tired, she had enjoyed herself.

Some people are living with the illness in its early stages and feel difficult to speak about it because of the stigma attached with mental health issues.

Concern was recently expressed that many are going undiagnosed and not receiving treatment in Mid Ulster.