Ronald McDonald House Orange figures show large numbers staying due to child mental health problems

HELPING HANDS: Ronald McDonald House voluteers Mary-Jo Weston and Denise Schmitch on duty at the facility on Thursday. Photo: Supplied
HELPING HANDS: Ronald McDonald House voluteers Mary-Jo Weston and Denise Schmitch on duty at the facility on Thursday. Photo: Supplied

Mental health problems affecting young people are the main reason families stay at Ronald McDonald House Orange [RMHO].

The house provides accommodation for families living more than 50 kilometres from Orange who have children being treated at hospitals in Orange.

RMHO executive officer Rebecca Walsh said families of children suffering mental health issues made up nearly half of the total number of nights [1083 out of 2390] people stayed and a third of all visits [143 out of 439] made to the house since it opened in 2015.

She said these stays were usually far longer than for other health problems.

One family spent 20 weeks at the RMHO while their child was cared for in hospital.

Families from Parkes have used the facility the most.

RMHO figures show 42 families made 65 visits [some families had to return for a second stay] for a total stay of 320 nights.

They were followed by families from Young who have stayed for 217 nights, Forbes 139 nights and Condobolin 109 nights.

Ms Walsh said 37 per cent of families stayed 1-10 days this year compared to 28 per cent staying 11-20 days in the facility.

She said RMHO saw a lot of child mental health cases because it was close to Bloomfield hospital and its mental health expertise.

Ms Walsh said other Ronald McDonald Houses saw more cancer patients because of their proximity to a cancer care hospital and high-risk pregnancies because of their proximity to those medical facilities.

“Our occupancy rate is increasing,” she said.

“In the last two weeks it has been at 100 per cent full or 75 per cent.

We can see it is really helping her.

Parents of teenage girl suffering depression.

“Down the track Ronald McDonald House Orange will need to expand so we will have to work in with Ronald McDonald House charities and the hospitals.”

RNHO saw families from 86 per cent of NSW in the past two years.

Ms Walsh said families were often pleased with the care and attention they received at the house.

She showed the Central Western Daily a heartfelt testimonial from one family of a teenage girl suffering depression who had stayed at the facility.

“I can’t express just how grateful we are to be able to stay in a house that is only a six minute walk from where our daughter is,” they wrote.

“We can see it is really helping her.”