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Ronald Mc Donald House

Friday, 6 November 2009

This November 7th marks the 5th birthday of The Ronald McDonald House and over the years more than 1200 families have benefited from the facilities. The facility allows families from across the country to come and stay close to their children when they are hospitalised in Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin. There are 16 family bedrooms and each family has their own use of a kitchenette and play areas as well as computers, a library, etc to make their stay as comfortable and "like home" as possible while their child is in hospital. In fact, next year RMHC will be opening another facility just outside the grounds of Crumlin's Children's Hospital to accommodate even more families. The House is having a celebration day on the 7th November, and kicking off some new fundraising initiatives at that time as well.

RMHC Ireland Ltd. was set up in 1997. Since then they have made Grant Donations to many Irish Children's Charities, schools, hospitals and organisations. The charity organises various fundraising activities throughout the year to raise money for the building and ongoing maintenance.

Today we speak to some of the Darcy family, Nicholas, Ines and Molly from Gorey, Wexford. When Molly was born in 2005 she needed a heart transplant and her parents stayed in the Ronald McDonald House on and off for a year
We also have Marian Carroll, Volunteer CEO of the Ronald McDonald House.

Ronald McDonald House
It started over 35 years ago, a man who played for the Philadelphia Eagles had a daughter who was sick in hospital in Philadelphia. He didn't have anywhere to stay when he was in hospital. He then decided that he would try and organise a place for families to stay when they had sick children in hospital.. He got help from his team manager Jim Murray. Jim Murray had some contacts with people in the Mc Donald's food industry and McDonald's said they would help raise funds at the time. As a result the first Ronald McDonald House was opened in October 1974. Since then 291 Houses have been opened in 30 countries. In 2004 Jim Murray came over to Dublin and he and Mary Harney opened the house in Crumlin.

How do families hear about the accommodation?
Families usually hear about the accommodation through Crumlin hospital. Crumlin Hospital does have accommodation, but there are only single rooms there. Only one or two of the parents can therefore stay at the hospital..
So when a family has a sick child in the hospital for a long period of time, and they need or want to bring their other children with them to Dublin, then they can all stay in the house.

Can you tell us a bit about the facilities within the house - it has some interesting named features?
The house is divided into four wings, and each wing is named after a province: Munster, Ulster, Leinster and Connacht. And the rooms within the wings are named after rivers within the provinces. This is because the roads in and around Crumlin hospital are called after mountains. We also wanted to make it feel a bit more like home for the families, and it might make it that bit easier for them..

There are 16 bedrooms, 3 kitchens, one dinging room, a TV room, a library, a toddler room, an outdoor room for the children, and an outdoor garden for the parents..

What is the typical length of stay for a family?
The average length of stay for a family is 4 to 6 months.. We currently have a family that are staying with us for 13 months. and we had one that stayed for 18 months before..
How many families stayed in the house since it opened?
We have had 1200 families who stayed with us since we opened in 2004.
What kind of feedback have you got from families who have stayed at the house?
I suppose one of the things is the un hospital-like atmosphere at the house and it provides some for of escape for the families. The families can have a 'normal' life when they might be going through a difficult period of having to spend time with the child in hospital. The big advantage for parents is also the fact that there are four beds in the rooms, meaning a lot of the family can stay there, which is great for them. In fact, a lot of the families end up keeping in touch with one another after they have left the house. There is also great support between the families, which maybe some of them need.

How much does it cost per family to stay?
It costs €10 per room tom stay in the house. If a family is on social welfare, then the family can also claim this back..

How much does it cost to run the house during the year?
It takes 300,000 a year to keep the house going and we don't get any funding from the Government, so we do organise a lot of fund raising events ourselves. We have one coming up. she is going to talk bout this

How many volunteers/ people work at the centre?
10 volunteers here at the moment. We have one House manager, a part time house manager, a part time house keeper part at the moment.