Daffodil House ‘wonderful’

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Place of healing . . . Daffodil House manager Sandra Wilson (left) relaxes in the dining room with a friendly group of house guests (from second left) Murray and Audrey Wishart, of Invercargill, Eric and Lee Williams, of Bluff, and Babubhai and Shanti Gandhi, of Wellington. PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD

The sun pours in the windows of Daffodil House, warming the comfortable, open plan kitchen and living area.

Operated by the Cancer Society since 1989, Daffodil House is a “home away from home” for out-of-town cancer patients and their partners.

For the past 13 years, Daffodil House manager Sandra Wilson has provided a welcoming space for guests at the Great King St site – close to the Cancer Society headquarters and just 50m from Dunedin Hospital.

House has hosted guests for 2239 bed nights in its 11 rooms, at no charge to the guests.

Daffodil House is funded through the Ministry of Health’s national travel and accommodation assistance programme.

Mrs Wilson loves her role at the house, which has given her the opportunity to work alongside “an amazing bunch of people” and make lasting friendships.

“The atmosphere at the house is just great – people really love it here,” she said.

“They are all in the same boat, stuck in Dunedin for a month or more and often having daily treatment, so they really help to keep each other’s spirits up.

“It is wonderful to see how resilient, caring and supportive everyone is.”

Daffodil House regularly hosts people from throughout New Zealand, and among the current guests are Murray and Audrey Wishart, of Invercargill, Eric and Lee Williams, of Bluff, and Babubhai and Shanti Gandhi, of Wellington.

Mr Wishart said he felt “very lucky and privileged to have a place like this to come to”.

“Everything is laid on and everyone is so friendly – it makes a big difference.”

Mrs Gandhi said, despite the rigours of treatment, the experience had been “wonderful”.

“The hospital staff, as well as Sandra and the other guests here, have all been great,” she said.

Mrs Williams said being so close to the hospital and the centre of Dunedin was a real bonus.

Cancer Society Otago-Southland division chief executive Dr Rachael Hart admired the work done by the Daffodil House team to provide the right environment for guests.

Getting a cancer diagnosis created uncertainty in people’s lives, and on top of that they often had to travel away from loved ones for treatment – sometimes for up to seven weeks, Dr Hart said.

“It’s important we provide a space to escape and relax, especially after often rigorous treatment.”