nib partners with RMHC® New Zealand to provide additional support to kiwi families throughout COVID-19 and beyond
Ronald McDonald House Charities® (RMHC®) New Zealand has been working hard to continue delivering its support services to families in need throughout the nationwide lockdown (and beyond), bolstered by the support of leading health insurer, nib New Zealand, and its charitable organisation, nib foundation.
Deemed an essential service by the Ministry of Social Development during Alert Level Four, RMHC New Zealand, like many other services, had to adapt to ensure they could continue to provide free accommodation to families when their child is in a hospital away from home.
In order to meet isolation requirements, 28 rooms across the Auckland and Wellington houses were converted into self-contained units, to enable long stay families to remain in their ‘home-away-from-home’ during lockdown. With the communal kitchens closed, nib bolstered its existing RMHC New Zealand national partnership with a further investment of $20,000 to enable each room to be kitted out with a fridge, kettle, toaster and microwave to ensure families could function safely in their bubbles. A further 12 rooms were also supplied with kettles for short stay families, so social distancing could be maintained.
RMHC New Zealand Chief Executive Officer, Wayne Howett, said it was even more important that families had less to worry about by utilising RMHC New Zealand’s programmes.
“Many of the families who stay with us are already under a tremendous amount of stress. During the lockdown period this was heightened, so having the appropriate facilities providing the full benefit of the compassionate hospitality we are known for was truly significant,” he said.
This support was delivered in addition to the nib foundation sponsoring three rooms at RMHC New Zealand’s Auckland and Wellington houses. Frequent (former) residents of the nib rooms, the Chang family of Palmerston North, know the struggle all too well - having spent 106 nights across both the Auckland and Wellington houses, while daughter Chloe (now three) underwent chemotherapy after having a brain tumour removed in 2019.
“It’s never easy when your child is sick but knowing you have that support from RMHC New Zealand makes the journey that bit easier. It gives us comfort to know that even while under lockdown, families continued to receive that same care and were able to remain close to their child, as we know firsthand how difficult it can be,” Nicole Chang, Chloe’s mother sympathised.
nib foundation Executive Officer, Amy Tribe, says nib is proud to continue supporting an organisation that helps so many Kiwi families, especially during a time of such difficulty.
“For parents and caregivers, looking after a child in hospital is an incredibly difficult experience at the best of times – let alone during a pandemic. The lives of all family members are often turned upside down and their minds are filled with worries about finances, finding a place to stay nearby and making sure the simple day-to-day tasks get completed,” Mrs Tribe said.
“RMHC New Zealand provide that invaluable support, mitigating some of these concerns so families can concentrate on each other. We admire the incredible work that the team at RMHC New Zealand do and are proud to have been able to assist them in meeting some of the challenges brought on by COVID-19,” she added.
RMHC New Zealand saves families over NZD$11 million each year in accommodation, meal and other costs, while their child is staying in a hospital away from home. Last year, they provided more than 4,600 families with free accommodation and support - the busiest year since it opened in New Zealand almost 30 years ago.
All RMHC New Zealand support services, including schooling support for patients’ siblings staying in House, are provided free of charge. Beyond the funding support, nib employees will also be actively involved in RMHC New Zealand Cook Nights, preparing meals for families staying at the Houses.
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