Ronald McDonald House Charities WA keeps its doors open to families 365 days a year when a child is impacted with an illness.
Not-for-profit organisation Ronald McDonald House Charities WA keeps its doors open to families 365 days a year when a child is impacted with an illness.
“More families reach out for RMHC WA’s support each year beyond our capacity. Too many families are on our waitlist, and many are unable to access our support when they need it most,” RMHC WA CEO Peter King told Business News.
In 2024, in partnership with the state government and Stan Perron Charitable Foundation, RMHC WA will open an additional, temporary Ronald McDonald House near QEII Medical Centre to support an extra 50 patients and families each day for the next four years.
RMHC WA will also advance plans to develop its main house facility at QEII Medical Centre and grow capacity from 47 families to 147 families by late 2028.
The charity, dedicated to providing accommodation and support programs for families with sick or injured children, relies on philanthropic donations, corporate giving, and government support to sponsor its services and programs.
“With more families in our care, we will need the support of Western Australians from across business and community to ensure every individual family is supported at the most difficult time of their lives,” Mr King added.
'Our home away from home'
When toddler Ellie was diagnosed with neuroblastoma after a short visit to Karratha Hospital with a bloated tummy, the Barry family were flown to Perth for her to receive urgent medical care.
Just a week before Christmas, they were given a place to stay at Ronald McDonald House Charities WA, which they called home for 368 nights.
Being close to the hospital was essential for Ellie as doctors worked to save her life through chemotherapy.
Ellie's parents, Neen and Alex, found comfort in speaking to staff, volunteers, and other families at RMHC WA, while Ellie’s brother Jasper was able to be part of the activities at the house during Christmas.
Consumed with Ellie’s health and recovery and unable to think about groceries or cooking, the family was able to lean on RMHC WA to provide breakfast and dinner.
“So much effort went into making Ronald McDonald House a home for our family. I’m just so grateful that we could stay at Ronald McDonald House in Perth. When we arrived, it was just seven days before Christmas,” Neen Barry, Ellie’s mother, said.
“There were plenty of times that we were at breaking point. But this didn’t destroy us because for 368 days we could stay at Ronald McDonald House, our home away from home.”
Last Christmas, after months of treatments, Ellie made a full recovery. They could return home, and this year will be able to enjoy a Christmas away from the hospital, close to family and friends.
There will be up to 61 families with sick kids that will make RMHC WA their home for Christmas this year.
‘The only one of its kind in WA’
RMHC WA’s family-centred service model is the only one of its kind in WA.
“We see our service model as an integrated part of maternity, child and adolescent health systems that support hospital and patient needs,” Mr King said.
In 2022, the charity supported more than 1,700 families at its Nedlands house, Perth Children's Hospital and alternative accommodations, with almost 19,000 nights of supported accommodation for patients and their families.
Prior to receiving RMHC WA support, approximately one in three families with sick children were experiencing stressful financial wellbeing and poor to very poor emotional wellbeing.
In 2022, RMHC WA’s support had its highest impact on the emotional and financial wellbeing of families, increasing wellbeing by 31 per cent.
With RMHC WA’s support, 67 per cent reported their emotional wellbeing was good to very good and ratings for poor to very poor emotional wellbeing was reduced by 25 per cent.
Through its education programs, RMHC WA provided more than 3,900 hours of tutoring provided to young patients.
A critical insight highlighted that parents and carers believed if they had not been able to access RMHC WA support, their families’ wellbeing would have further declined in their circumstances.
“We create programs and deliver services that alleviate the diverse challenges families experience when a child is sick, including having to travel far from home for medical care.,” Mr King said.
“Without access to our services, 83 per cent of families stated that if they had not been able to stay at with us, their emotional and financial wellbeing would have been poor or very poor.”
Read more about RMHC WA’s impact in its 2022 Annual Impact Report.
How to give your support
Without the support of donations, RMHC WA would not be unable to keep its doors open to families in need 365 days a year.
Options for corporate organisations include supporting the ‘Adopt a Room’ program, participating as a corporate team for the overnight walking marathon ‘Up All Night’ or the ‘Home for dinner’ program, or volunteering.
Please visit the comprehensive list of giving opportunities to give to RMHC WA to help families in need.