Thursday 1st December
Families of children undergoing long term care at Alder Hey have been given a much needed boost before Christmas – their own front door! Ten families have recently moved into brand new apartments at the onsite Ronald McDonald House, the first and only House in Europe to provide such a facility to families.
Each apartment has one bedroom, kitchen, dining and lounge facilities along with a bathroom and will be able to accommodate up to four people. Along with providing much needed space, privacy and a sense of normality, the apartments will be particularly beneficial for the families of patients treated at Alder Hey for six months or more.
Jan Thomas, House Director said: “We are thrilled to be able to accommodate our long stay families in our 15 new apartments, particularly at this time of year. These are families from all over the UK who have put their lives on hold to be close to the hospital where their child is being treated. All of these children have life limiting conditions and will be in hospital not for days or weeks but months and possibly years.”
The first families moved into the new building in October and are already settling into their new home. Some of these families have been at Alder Hey for over a year; some have come from as far afield as Derbyshire and the Isle of Man while the majority are expecting to spend Christmas at the hospital. Many of them have other children who will also have to spend the festive season at Alder Hey.
Jill Evans and Colin McNeill have been at the House since their son Noah first came to Alder Hey in April. Jill said: “Noah was just two weeks old when he first came to Alder Hey with breathing problems. We now know he has a form of lung disease which means he is fully ventilated long term and is oxygen dependent via a tracheostomy. Our plans are not firm for Christmas yet but it won’t be like normal.
“Having an apartment rather than a room is amazing. We can live again like a family in our own space. As Noah gets more stable, we are able to bring him, with his carer, to our apartment, make a meal and sit together. It is almost like real life at home. We literally would not manage without this facility. It allows us to be at Noah’s bedside in the middle of the night in a matter of minutes.”
Parents Debbie Taylor and Alan Hinton from Shropshire arrived at Alder Hey in October after their son Callum was diagnosed with a complex heart condition. Callum had complicated open heart surgery and remains in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit. Debbie and Alan have three other children and the family are organising a mini bus so that they can all be together over Christmas. Debbie and Alan said: “The new apartments are fantastic and provide a home away from home. They give us complete privacy and somewhere to spend quality time with our other children who can now stay overnight.”
Jan continues: “Each and every day we see the unconditional love that these families have not just for their own children but for other children in similar situations. Ronald McDonald House enables families to be available 24/7 to put the child to bed at night, to be there when they wake up in the morning, to hold their tiny hand and to wipe away the tears when the pain becomes unbearable.
“We can’t do this without the support of our families who raise all of our £450k running costs. We feel humble when we see the way these people cope with the roller coaster in which they find themselves. We can’t keep your heart from breaking or hurting, but we can cry with you and help you pick up the pieces and put them back into place.''