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Frequently Asked Questions


Who can use the facilities?

  • Ronald McDonald House South Island (RMHSI), through its House and Family Room programmes, provides accommodation and support services to families who must travel away from their home to receive specialist medical treatment, or who have a child in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), or other specialist paediatric High Dependency Unit (HDU). RMHSI enables family-centred medical care by ensuring families can remain together, close by the partnering hospital.
  • Eligible families are defined as parents, guardians, or essential caregivers who will be directly involved in the daily support of the paediatric patient receiving treatment in NICU or HDU.
  • A maximum of two caregivers can be accommodated at any time.
  • Siblings are not able to stay at the Family Room, unless they are a young child who is breastfeeding.

How do we find out if we are eligible to stay?

  • Families of children (18 years and under) are referred to us through their doctor, district health board or social worker.
  • Accommodation at the Ronald McDonald Family Room is available for local families as well as families who must travel to the partnering hospital when their child has been admitted to NICU or HDU and their condition is critical or unstable.
  • Please note: self-referrals will not be accepted for your first visit.

What will it cost us to stay?

There is no charge for families staying at the Ronald McDonald Family Room. We rely on the generous support of the public, businesses and volunteers to operate our facilities and we undertake our own internal fundraising to meet costs.

How long can I stay?

  • Families may stay at the Ronald McDonald Family Room, Southland Hospital from the time their child has been admitted to NICU or HDU until their condition is stabilised. Once stabilised, local families will be asked to vacate the accommodation. Families who meet the Ministry of Health Travel Assistance Policy accommodation criteria will be offered accommodation in a Ronald McDonald House programme, if one is available, or alternatively a motel.
  • Here’s a link to see the Ministry of Health eligibility criteria for National Travel Assistance: https://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/services-and-support/health-care-services/hospitals-and-specialist-services/travel-assistance/whos-eligible-travel-assistance
  • After checking this link, a next step would then be to contact the Patient Travel Administrator at your regional hospital, as they will be able to confirm your eligibility and explain the options to you.

What do I need to bring?

The Ronald McDonald Family Room offers bedrooms complete with bed and bath linen. There are also free shared laundry facilities and fully equipped kitchens stocked with basic food items.

Cooking facilities and some food is provided, but please bring your basic food items with you.

Is there wheelchair access?

Yes. Shared areas at the Ronald McDonald Family Room are fully accessible. A number of bedrooms are also fully accessible. Please inform us at the time of your booking if you require an accessible bedroom.

Is childcare provided?

The care and behaviour of children at our facilities is the responsibility of their parent or guardian. Children up to the age of 18 years must be supervised by a responsible adult at all times and must not be left unattended in the Family Room.

Are we allowed visitors?

  • Visitors to the Family Room are permitted only with approval of the Family Room Supervisor.
  • All visitors will be asked to sign in on arrival.
  • Visitors are not permitted in guest rooms but are welcome in the shared areas.
  • Please ensure your visitors are informed:
    • Guests must be made aware of the Family Room Rules, particularly those relating to smoking, alcohol and banned substances.
    • Large groups of visitors can feel intimidating to other Family Room families if they dominate shared spaces, so please be sensitive to others’ needs.
    • Unfortunately we cannot accommodate visitors for shared meals as this makes it difficult for our volunteers to cater accurately.

What if I, or one of my visitors, is sick?

The Ronald McDonald Family Room, Southland Hospital often accommodates outpatients receiving treatment for serious illnesses, therefore it is vitally important that all guests and their visitors must be infection free.

Special information regarding Novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

All families and team members will be screened prior to entering a facility to minimise the opportunity of inadvertently spreading the virus.

Prior to admission, the following wellness questions will be asked:

  • Do you currently have an elevated temperature of 37.5C or higher, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath or other flu-like symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea?
  • Have you been diagnosed with COVID-19 by a medical professional?
  • In the past 14 days, have you had close contact with a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 by a medical professional? (Close contact is defined as being within 1 metre for 15 minutes or more or living within the same household).
  • Have you been told by a healthcare provider or public health official that you should self-quarantine due to potential COVID-19 exposure(s) or that you are suspected of having COVID-19?
  • Registered families staying at the Ronald McDonald Family Room may not return home or alternate days/weeks with other family members.
  • People with flu-like symptoms will not be permitted to enter our facilities.

Please check your immunisations are up to date and let us know if you have:-

Had any exposure to a confirmed case of the following over the past 3 weeks:-

  • Chicken pox
  • Measles
  • Rubella (German measles)
  • Mumps
  • Whooping Cough
  • Head Lice
  1. If you have had any of the following over the past 2 days:-
  • Fever (higher than 38 degrees C)
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Flu symptoms (stiff neck, headache with a fever)
  • Cold symptoms (runny nose, cough, congestion, sore throat, watery eyes)
  • Skin rash or skin lesions that are ‘weepy’

 Special information regarding Measles

In respect to the measles outbreak in New Zealand, all persons entering Ronald McDonald House, or the Ronald McDonald Family Rooms should either:-

  • Be fully immunised (received two doses of MMR vaccine – typically given at 15 months and 4 years)
  • Had one immunisation, we recommend you contact your health professional to receive your booster(s)
  • Had previously had measles (but not recently)
  • Been born before 1969

If you have not been immunised or are not sure, you should contact your GP to test your immunity and have this confirmed prior to coming to the House or Family Room.

Under no circumstances can guests who have been in contact or diagnosed with measles, chicken pox or shingles, or who have had an episode of vomiting or diarrhoea in the last 48 hours, be allowed to enter our facilities. People with flu-like symptoms are also not permitted to enter our facilities.

Can I be reached by phone?

Every room in the Family Room has its own telephone. The Family Room phones are equipped with voicemail. You will be given your extension number on arrival.

How many people can stay in a room?

A maximum of two people can stay in a bedroom at the Family Room.

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