New ‘home away from home’ for families of children in hospital

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FAMILIES WHOSE CHILDREN ARE BEING TREATED AT EVELINA LONDON CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL CAN NOW BE NEAR THE WARD YET ENJOY A DEGREE OF NORMAL FAMILY LIFE, THANKS TO A NEW STATE-OF-THE-ART RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE JUST A FEW MINUTES’ WALK FROM THE HOSPITAL.

Ronald McDonald House Charities provides free ‘home away from home’ accommodation and support at specialist children’s hospitals across the country, and has just completed a purpose-built, 59 bedroom facility near the St Thomas’ Hospital site where Evelina London is located.

This week sees the first families moving into the new Ronald McDonald House London Evelina and enjoying the outstanding new amenities. Going to a hospital, often some distance from home, can be a frightening experience for a child so it is important that they have their families close by for love and comfort, and to help them in their recovery.

Most beds at Evelina London Children’s Hospital have a pull-down for an adult but this can only accommodate one family member. Without a local Ronald McDonald House, parents may have the expense of hotel accommodation or face a lengthy commute. The independent charity’s Houses can ease the stress of having a child in hospital and are designed to be more than just a place to sleep. They have communal living areas such as kitchens, playrooms, lounges and laundry facilities.

Families can stay free of charge, close to their children, for as long as they need, with some staying months and even years.

This is particularly important for families whose children are being cared for at Evelina London because it has many specialist services – including a recently expanded Neonatal Unit – which treat children living throughout London, Southeast England and beyond. The new House will further enhance the standard of family-centred care provided.

Over 25 years since the UK’s first Ronald McDonald House opened, the charity’s model of best practice has been honed and Ronald McDonald House Evelina London has been equipped to cater for every family’s needs.

The new building boasts a large day-room, catering facilities, full IT access, adaptations to make it fully accessible, a roof garden and every thoughtful accessory to allow families to concentrate on the wellbeing of their child. Provision has been made for siblings and larger families to be able to be together.

The new £13 million House has been built and will be run by Ronald McDonald House Charities. The project is being run in partnership with Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, which made a significant contribution to the cost of the build, and Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, which provided the land and helped to bring the parties together.

It is estimated that the new House will accommodate around 975 families a year – three times the number accommodated at the House it replaces which is near Guy’s Hospital at London Bridge. The original House was built there in June 1980 because Evelina London’s wards used to be located at Guy’s before the new children’s hospital opened in 2005. The House, which was the first to open in the UK, was some distance from Evelina London, which meant families had to take transport to travel to and back from hospital.

The new House is a much-needed lifeline for the increasing number of families whose children are treated at Evelina London Children’s Hospital. The hospital acts as a regional referral centre and admits children from all over Southeast England for highly specialist care. Demand from families outstripped supply at the old 20 bedroom House with waiting lists of up to 40 families at a time.

Yearly running costs are forecast to be in the region of £500,000. Ronald McDonald House Charities has a dedicated fundraising team tasked with generating income for the Evelina London House, as well as the charity’s three other Houses in London for families of children being treated at King’s College Hospital, Moorfields Eye Hospital and St George’s Hospital in Tooting.

Jon Haward, Director of Ronald McDonald House Charities, says: “We are delighted that our flagship House is now ready for families. It was an ambitious project and we and our partners have worked long and hard to bring it to fruition. Demand is acute for our services all over the country and we are pleased to be able to provide our support to one of the leading children’s specialist hospitals in London. Having a place to unwind away from the hospital makes a big difference to families at a stressful time, as well as easing the significant financial challenge of finding somewhere to stay close to their sick child”

Dr Grenville Fox, Clinical Director, Children’s Medical Specialties & Neonatology Evelina London, says: “The old House near to Guy’s Hospital served us well for many years but this new House will make an even bigger difference to our families. As Evelina London has grown, including our specialist services treating young people from Southeast England and beyond, demand for the accommodation has become huge. This new House will mean more than double the number of families can be near their children when they most need them. It provides a welcoming and nurturing environment just a short walk from our front doors, helping families to best support their children.”

Kieron Boyle, Chief Executive of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, says: “Having a child in hospital can be very distressing for families. It can also be very disruptive – particularly for children who need longer stays. We are delighted to have supported Ronald McDonald House to relocate so near Evelina London, offering a modern and convenient space to help families continue being families during a testing time in their lives. A huge congratulations to everyone involved in this landmark project for generations of families to come.”

– ENDS –

NOTES TO EDITOR

A spokesperson, images and stories of families are available through contacting the numbers above.
Media are welcome to visit the new House and be taken on a tour. Please contact the numbers above to arrange.
Ronald McDonald House Charities is an independent charity that provides free ‘home away from home’ accommodation at hospitals across the UK. The Charity enables seriously ill children to have their families close by when they are undergoing treatment and allows them to maintain a degree of normal family life.
There are 14 Ronald McDonald Houses in the UK and in 2015, they helped support over 7,000 families with children in hospital.

Ronald McDonald House Charities relies on the generosity of supporters and fundraisers, including McDonald’s customers, without whom it would be unable to continue its work.

The Charity was founded in 1989 and has been keeping families together for more than
25 years.

The Ronald McDonald House is located at 216 Lambeth Road next to Archbishop’s Park, SE1 7JY

ABOUT EVELINA LONDON:

Evelina London Children’s Hospital is part of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. www.evelinalondon.nhs.uk
Evelina London treats around 55,000 children a year across hospital and community services.
Facilities include 141 inpatient beds, a 20-bed paediatric intensive care unit, a 52-cot neonatal intensive care unit, six dedicated children’s operating theatres, and a kidney dialysis unit.
Evelina London cares for children from across south east London, and is also a regional referral centre, admitting children from all over the south east of England for highly specialist care.
Evelina London isn’t like other hospitals. It’s only for children and young people – and it was designed by children, for children, to make every child who comes through our doors feel as safe, supported and special as possible.

ABOUT GUY’S AND ST THOMAS’ CHARITY:

Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity is an independent charitable foundation which supports new ideas to tackle major health and care challenges in Lambeth and Southwark. The Charity partners with others who also strive to improve local health and healthcare, and has an especially close relationship with Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. The Charity has provided the land for the new house and helped to bring the different parties together.

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