Ronald McDonald House Northern NSW is a charity that operates a number of programs throughout the Northern NSW region: Ronald McDonald House Newcastle, Ronald McDonald Family Room (at John Hunter Children’s Hospital Newcastle) Ronald McDonald House Tamworth, Ronald McDonald Family Room at Gosford Hospital and Ronald McDonald Family Retreat Forster. We also have considerable involvement in the Ronald McDonald Learning Program in Northern NSW.
Ronald McDonald House Northern NSW Chapter provides accommodation for families of sick or injured children who are receiving medical treatment in either John Hunter Children’s Hospital (the only major children’s hospital outside a capital city) or at Tamworth Base Hospital. These families may come from the extended Northern NSW region from central coast through to the QLD border and out past Moree. Families usually reside over 100km from the hospital and have a child 18 or younger as a patient. We provide low cost accommodation on the hospital grounds so that the family can stay together, with reduced financial burden and stress. We become the home away from home for anything from 1 night to years depending on the child’s medical requirements.
Our other support programs for families include 2 Family Rooms located within John Hunter Children’s Hospital Newcastle and Gosford Hospital. Family Rooms provide home like facilities for families who may not need overnight accommodation whilst their child is in hospital but do require practical support whilst spending long hours at the hospital. Kitchen, bathroom, laundry facilities and a lounge and play area allow the family a break from the ward, a meal, and time out with other siblings as required. Our Family Rooms had over 10 000 family visits last year alone whilst our Houses together provided nearly 15000 bed nights each year. The Ronald McDonald Family Retreat at Forster provides a place for families with sick children to take a break and reconnect as a family, building their strength to continue on through the emotional and physical stress that accompanies their situation.
We could not operate without the support of over 450 volunteers spread throughout our services. They are our heart and allow us to operate on reduced staff ratios but with utmost care and love for the families we look after. Volunteers in our Houses are rostered on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year, and in the Family Rooms, from early morning to late evening every day. Our volunteers differentiate us from other accommodation services and make a family’s experience with us one that is personal and compassionate. We provide our volunteers with the best preparation we can. Training ensures that they are able to provide our families what they need, but they too are receiving valuable training but not placed in situations they are not equipped to deal with practically and emotionally.
Research has shown that children respond better to their medical treatment when their family is close by. With many families experiencing financial stress when their child is sick, and with the increase in the number of single parent families, our services continue to expand as the increased need for our help does. Our mission is to provide holistic support to all families in Northern NSW with a child that is ill and with community support and funding, we will continue to take up the request for our services in the regional areas of Northern NSW where there is a large children’s ward within the hospital and families require support.