There’s an oasis of peace and calm on level one of Peter Mac. In a busy hospital, it’s a place that, in the words of a patient, is “brilliantly humanising”.

Peter Mac’s Wellbeing Centre is a sanctuary from treatment and the stresses associated with having cancer. It features a garden, access to computers, volunteer support, a quiet room, a lounge for patients and families and a kitchenette with tea and coffee making facilities.

“The space is very warm and welcoming and wonderful to use. We have a four-year-old and it was great to let him play between appointments,” a patient commented.

The Wellbeing Centre is just one component of our wellbeing model, part of our ongoing strategy to integrate cancer prevention and wellbeing interventions into our work and the community.

Developed in partnership with our patients, the community, clinicians and researchers, the wellbeing model complements our clinical care with services and resources to support social and psychological health. It aims always to be responsive to the needs of our patients.

The Wellbeing Centre is a patient controlled space where services and information are determined by the patient, rather than Peter Mac.

“The stress levels of the patients drop the minute they walk through the door because there’s a calmness and a warmth to the space,” Manager Esther Lim says.

“It’s a place for patients and their families and carers to come in and relax – and most importantly to connect with other patients and their families over a coffee or tea.”

The wellbeing model also includes regular events like yoga, meditation and knitting circles, as well as public education forums, which help people with cancer to understand and manage their care and treatment.

There’s also a sleep pod where patients can relax and unwind after treatments.

A PLACE OF COMFORT WHEN IT’S GOOD NEWS OR BAD

For Elizabeth Teese, Peter Mac is not just a hospital, it’s a wellbeing place. Diagnosed with cancer five years ago, Elizabeth didn’t begin her treatment at Peter Mac but when she walked through the doors for the first time, she knew it would be different to the other hospitals.

“I realised instantly that people were there for the same reason as me – cancer, ” said Elizabeth.

“People smiled at each other and I didn’t feel alone,” she said. “I had to have radiotherapy and that’s when I met Professor Ball. He was the first doctor that started with me as a ‘person’. This care has continued, with Professor Ball at the helm of ‘my amazing team’, making me feel special and looking after all my needs, including learning to play the bongos in music therapy!

“The Wellbeing Centre is the core of Peter Mac on the days when I have a lot of time between appointments or am waiting for a lift home. It is also a place of comfort, when I get good news or bad news, providing space to deal with issues privately or to relax.

“Staff seem to know when you want to be alone or need to chat, and there are so many things I can do in the Wellbeing Centre that time flies. A rare find in such a big hospital.”

Elizabeth can often be found listening to the soft jazz playing in a corner, looking onto the garden on a cold winters day or relaxing in the centre’s meditation space.

“I don’t always have family around when I come to Peter Mac but I never feel alone with the wonderful people around me,” said Elizabeth. “I can go into Peter Mac and be me in any shape and form. I can do things that make me feel normal. There’s no pressure, no clock watching. I feel like I am the only patient here and certainly leave feeling I have achieved so many things in the comfort of the Wellbeing Centre. It really keeps me going.”

See Peter Mac's Wellbeing Centre page for more information and to get in touch.