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Letting Mums be Mums

Our Mother's Day stars: the Mackintosh family, share their story

When twin boys, Oliver and Luca Mackintosh were born early at 36 weeks’ gestation, Mum Renee discovered the importance of having a comfortable space to spend time with whanau during a long hospital stay.

The Mackintosh family were guests at the Ronald McDonald Family Room, Southland Hospital last year while the twins received care in the Neonatal unit just down the corridor. With also having two older children, Alfie (5) and Ruby (3), the Family Room played an integral part in keeping the family together when they needed it most.

The twins are now thriving at 10 months old and the Mackintosh family graciously front Ronald McDonald House South Island’s new Mother’s Day campaign, gratified to be helping raise awareness and support for all the Mums that stay with us.


The delightful mum-of-four, Renee, recently took some time out of her ever-eventful schedule to kindly share what the Ronald McDonald Family Room meant to her and her family.


Tell us about when you were first welcomed into the Family Room?

I felt relieved arriving at the Ronald McDonald Family Room.  It provided me with the rest and recovery I needed after birth and supported the connections between the twins and myself while they were receiving care.

What do you think makes the Family Room such a special place?

It provided me with a comfortable, non-clinical space to spend time with my husband Andrew and our two older children, Alfie and Ruby. I really missed my older two during this time, but I was able to see them everyday thanks to Ronald McDonald House. I would relish their visits and loved the child friendly environment as it enabled us to play with toys, read books and dine together as a family. This was such an important way to keep connections strong with my older two children while I was away from home. It was also a great space to have grandparents and friends visit.


What do Alfie and Ruby remember of the time their little brothers were in hospital?
They loved visiting the boys in hospital and still talk very fondly of spending time in the Ronald McDonald Family Room. That’s a lovely happy memory to have of the time we spent in hospital. They particularly remember the toys and baking that was provided for families to enjoy.


What did the ability to stay so close to your twins while they were in hospital mean to you?

The accommodation being so close to the Neonatal unit provided me with the support needed to establish breastfeeding with Oliver and Luca. It also allowed me to take care of them during the day and night with the help of the Neonatal staff.


Tell us about the people you met through the Family Room?

I really appreciated how the space enabled connections with other Mothers who had babies in the Neonatal unit. It was comforting to be able to talk together about our shared experiences and support each other. The staff there made us feel at home and well supported during our stay and I was most impressed by the volunteers – they were so great at keeping the room clean and functioning well.


How important is it for mums of hospitalised children to have access to a facility like Ronald McDonald House?

When a child is in hospital unwell, a mother feels her child’s pain deeply. This is a challenging time for Mums – being there for your child in hospital, whilst still coordinating whanau, keeping connections strong with children at home and juggling work commitments. This is exhausting for parents and until my stay I didn’t understand the importance of having a comfortable space to spend time in with whanau from home and to enjoy the quiet comforts of the Ronald McDonald space. I now understand how lucky we are in Southland to have the Ronald McDonald House programme supporting connections between family at home and in hospital.




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