Country club invites patients from rural and regional areas to meet on Tuesdays from 11am to 1pm in the patient lounge on the ground floor next to the main lifts. Volunteer Manager Lorainne Brecard said the aim of Country Club is to give patients and their families a venue to meet each other and share stories, seek advice, have a cuppa and a laugh.
“People from country areas may travel to Lifehouse expecting to spend three or four days here and then discover they have to spend seven weeks here. That’s a long time and it’s really isolating. It can be gut-wrenching for people from out of town. They don’t know anybody here and they feel really isolated and alone,” said Lorainne.
Country Club has been running since 2015. Volunteer host Di Caldwell said it is particularly important for patients doing long stints of radiotherapy and their partners, especially those from country areas. Di checks the hospital every Tuesday morning to invite country people along personally.
“We’ve found that Country Club is really important for country women who are here with their partners during their treatment. They can get really lonely, being so far away from friends and family. They might be okay for a week or two but after that they really need someone to talk to and a friendly face. That’s what makes Country Club so important as a venue for them to pop in and have a chat,” said Di.
Country Club has seen people of all ages visit, from babies to toddlers to children and adults of all ages. Patients, carers and volunteers meet and many become firm friends.
“We’ve met so many people and many stay in touch or become regular visitors. They might come back and visit the next time they’re in town even if just to say hi,” said Lorainne.
Volunteer host Jean-Claude Niederer says Country Club has welcomed visitors from all over the State, and even overseas from Vanuatu and New Caledonia.
“Country Club is a place for having a cuppa, a biscuit and a good chat and a laugh, often you can hear us laughing from down the corridor. It’s just about volunteers being available and having the time to have a chat—various people need various things,” said Jean-Claude.
“Really it’s for anybody in the building, we would never turn anyone away,” said Di.
The volunteers also provide advice about living temporarily in Sydney and getting around, getting orientated and visiting sites.
“We just want to make them feel more comfortable and to open up and ask us anything they need to know about,” said Jean-Claude.
“It gives us an opportunity to make sure patients aren’t doing their treatment alone and don’t feel so isolated. It’s a chance for us to say, “Make yourself at home,” said Lorainne.