‘Have you heard the one about the man who walked into a nursing home?’ Mary Seacole set for pub makeover

Roy Tecson, lead nurse at Mary Seacole Nursing Home and Emma Higgins, lead nurse for dementia at Hom

Roy Tecson, lead nurse at Mary Seacole Nursing Home and Emma Higgins, lead nurse for dementia at Homerton Hospital, outside the Water Poet pub in Folgate Street. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Polly Hancock

A Hoxton nursing home is set to be transformed into a replica pub to make residents feel more at home – and bosses haven’t ruled out serving “a drop of beer” there.

Spitalfields pub the Water Poet is generously donating furniture after the nurse manager from Mary Seacole Nursing Home in Nuttall Street put out an appeal for old-fashioned pub memorabilia.

He came up with the novel idea for the home after two years touring the world to get inspiration on the best care for dementia patients.

The Gazette reported in 2016 that he’d been awarded a £10,000 grant from the Florence Nightingale Foundation, and since then he’s visited Ipswich, the US and a dementia village in the Netherlands.

He’s already transformed Mary Seacole by creating a sensory garden and theming the corridors. Rather than numbering them, they’re now named after Hackney’s iconic streets and places, from Mare Street and Victoria Park to Ridley Road Market.

“It’s become easier to direct our residents with dementia who tend to wander,” explained Roy. “You say: ‘Room 8 in Mare Street,’ and it’s like giving them a proper address. And then it just sprung to mind: now that I’ve themed the corridors, why don’t I put in something else? So we started thinking about the possibility of putting a pub inside the nursing home.”

He added: “Obviously there’s some controversy about ‘why aren’t you encouraging a healthy lifestyle?’ but that’s not the whole idea and premise of the pub.”

Most Read

Rather than a drinking space, the idea is to create a social space for families to gather and reminisce, and for residents to “come for a glass of juice” – but Roy isn’t ruling out the possibility it might one day serve alcohol.

“If anything, the drive of the nursing home is to provide care that’s homely,” he said, “and if this is their home and not the hospital, maybe a drop of beer – would that harm?” he asked. “But it’s yet to be decided and that will be discussed within the governance of the nursing home.”

Roy, who moved to London from the Philippines 17 years ago, has worked at the Mary Seacole for a decade, and is committed improving the lives of those with dementia.

“I come from a culture where we value family and we have a very special affinity to our elders,” he said. “We want them to enjoy the days of their lives.”

“My passion is to make Mary Seacole if not the best, the friendliest dementia care home - not only in Hackney but the whole of London.”