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Ronald McDonald Family Rooms: literature review plan

2 Aug 2014

Family rooms in hospitals are clinical-free spaces away from children's wards to support families of hospitalised children. This publication outlines a plan to review the literature about hospital family rooms, including economic costs and benefits, and the impact on the wellbeing of children, families and hospital staff.


Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Australia is commissioning research to build an evidence base on the value of their support program for families with seriously ill children. This project is a review of the Australian and international literature on the role, alternatives to, and value of Ronald McDonald Family Rooms, including their economic costs and benefits, and impact on the wellbeing of children, families and the hospital. Family Rooms are ‘clinical-free spaces’ that aim to offer support to families with children who are hospitalised, outpatients or undergoing same day surgery, by providing services, for example kitchen and laundry facilities, and embracing an approach to care that focuses on the family as a whole (family-centred care). The review will report on existing evidence from all relevant fields, including child, family, health care and service system perspectives, in order to draw evidence-based practice implications about the ways in which Family Rooms and their alternatives can have a positive impact on families’ and children’s wellbeing and health care effectiveness. Central to the success of the review is the identification of all relevant national and international studies, comparing relevant findings, interventions and research methodologies across different settings and disciplines, and building on the research findings of current and previous RMHC Global research. The findings of the literature review will be complemented by summaries of routinely collected administrative data on the use of the Family Rooms in Australia. They will inform the development of RMHC investment strategies and research program and be of interest across different communities of research and practice that operate family-centred programs and require evidence of their effectiveness, for example government, nongovernment and private providers.

RMHC is a quasi-federated organisation with a national body and local House Chapters that support families with seriously ill children via a suite of programs, of which the Family Rooms are a key strategic priority. A unique feature of the RMHC structure lies in the corporate relationship with McDonalds Australia Ltd (McDonalds). As McDonald’s preferred charity, RMHC receives significant funding from the corporation.

Family Rooms reflect an approach to care that focuses on the family as a whole. When a child is admitted into hospital, the whole family is affected, rendering a need for the impact of the child's admission on all family members to be considered by the hospital, nurses, and doctors. 'Family-centred care' (FCC) is an approach to paediatric health care founded on the belief children’s and families’ wellbeing are best achieved by involving the whole family in the plan of care, enabling them to meet the needs of their child. Although there is no agreed definition of FCC in the literature, there is a growing agreement on the principles that inform FCC, in particular, information sharing, respect and dignity, partnership and collaboration, negotiation, and care in the context of family and community. These principles qualify FCC as the main theoretical framework within which to investigate and understand the function of Family Rooms in Australia and internationally.

This review will explore the available evidence on the role, alternatives to, and value of Family Rooms from the perspectives of all parties involved, i.e. the children and their families, House Chapters, volunteers, hospital staff members and main stakeholders, and with reference to a wide range of health and wellbeing outcomes and their relevance in relation to FCC and support. This approach will enable RMHC to identify best practices, understand how support can be best delivered to families and children and contribute to the international evidence base.

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