This World Mental Health Day on Sunday, 10 October, seniors at Mercy Place Mandurah are being encouraged to reflect on what brings them most joy and happiness, so that staff can ensure their passions are incorporated into their day-to-day lives at the not-for-profit home.
At 93 years old, Doreen Bullen is one of the oldest residents at the Mandurah-based home, and is the first to admit that her mental health has improved and her zest for life has returned ‘a hundredfold’ since she moved into the aged care home in September 2019.
Throughout her life, Doreen has enjoyed a love of music and dance, something the team of caregivers at Mercy Place Mandurah ensure continues to remain in her life on a regular basis.
Born in Northam in August 1928, Doreen became involved in the local dance scene at a very young age when, in her teenage years, she would accompany her mother to the Northam ‘War Café’.
Doreen recalls that the tearooms were always crowded and open to both soldiers and civilians, as they were established to support the Northam Army Camp, which was the largest camp to house soldiers in WA at the time.
“My mother, Rebecca, was a volunteer at the tearooms, and my sister Kate and I would always be on hand to help, and to our great joy we always got to dance with the soldiers who would come in from the army camp, though we were always under the watchful eye of our father who was also a soldier,” explains Doreen, who has also had a love of the piano throughout her life and, in the 1960s, even made it through to the finals of a Channel 7 talent show.
“I’ve always loved singing and I was often told that my voice could be heard not just in the family home, but by all the neighbours,” she laughs.
Doreen went on to fall in in love with Lance, a man from ‘West Northam’, and on Boxing Day 1949 they were married. They went on to settle in the rural town, where they had six children, though tragically their first-born, Elizabeth, died shortly after birth.
Their family of seven was immersed in community life however, with Doreen involved in the curriculum of choir tutoring at the local church and several schools. And throughout their lives, the couple would travel to rural towns, including Kellerberrin, Bruce Rock, Quairading, Corrigin, Narembeen to attend local dance events.
Mercy Place Mandurah Service Manager, Simone Baxter, said the team at the home was highly focused on residents mental health throughout the year, but that World Mental Health Day was a good opportunity to facilitate conversations with residents to ensure they were able to pursue their life passions while being residents.
“In Doreen’s case, her joy remains ever-present as a result of the song and movement she is able to participate in at Mercy Place Mandurah,” says Ms Baxter.
“We are incredibly fortunate to have a vibrant atmosphere and dedicated staff who continue to ensure Doreen finds happiness and fulfilment in her day-to day life, and this is a focus we aim to ensure for all of our residents.
“Mercy Health certainly strives to create a positive and happy environment for residents and staff members in all of our homes across WA, and we feel that is something worth celebrating on World Mental Health Day.”
The aim of World Mental Health Day is to raise awareness of mental health issues and to mobilise efforts in support of mental health. The Day provides an opportunity for people to discuss what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people of all ages, all over the world.
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