Families continue to be at the core of everything we do. This year, we focused on enhancing emotional and physical services to families to exceed their expectations before, during and after their stay with us. Our team trialled and launched several successful new Programs and products that address a family’s specific needs at different touchpoints on their journey.
Giving families one less thing to think about
When a family first walks through the door at one of our Houses, they may be disoriented and preoccupied with the gravity of their child’s situation. It’s our job to make the experience less overwhelming.
Our Programs and Impact Team had the idea to streamline our House information via an app for families, instead of bombarding families with piles of brochures and paperwork.
An app would do all the thinking for families, keeping them connected, informed and cared for while staying at the House. It would also ensure families knew what to expect before staying with us for the first time.
Funding from a long-time supporter
The team pitched the idea to one of RMHC’s long-time supporters, who jumped at the opportunity to fund the initiative. The race was on to find a developer who could develop 18 apps within our ambitious budget and timeframe.
Our team looked to RMHC’s global network and came across an app that was similar to the one they had in mind. Since the template already existed, developing the app would be quicker and more cost-effective.
Within a couple of months, the app had been rolled out to a small trial group of Houses to get feedback from families. Their responses have been positive so far, with families reporting that they love how easy the app is to use and how clear and informative it is.
How the app supports families
The app has been downloaded 651 times since it was launched and is used regularly to check:
- hospital shuttle service times
- laundry, fridge and pantry availability
- where the closest business centres are for working families
- when families can use the gym, recreation rooms or teen dens.
This showcases what a charity can do to go beyond the standard level of care and respond to families’ specific needs to make their experience that little bit less stressful.
Learning support for students with mental health issues
Our Learning Program has helped thousands of seriously ill children get back on track with missed education following treatment. Since its inception, the Program has been available to those with a physical illness. Now, for the first time, it is accepting students with a primary mental health diagnosis.
To ensure these students don’t fall through the gap, the team trialled a Program that addresses specific learning challenges associated with a student’s mental health diagnosis.
Supporting students’ wellbeing
The team worked closely with the mental health units at Monash University and Orange Base Hospital, and received backing from psychologists, a psychiatrist, social workers, university professors and school principals. This was vital to the Program’s success.
The pilot ran from November 2019 to October 2021, despite interruptions caused by the pandemic.
While it’s too early to show hard data, anecdotal feedback from students and families has been positive.
What parents are saying
“I feel the pilot has given my son a sense of hope.”
“The individual, personalised support has significantly helped my child return to school. It’s good to hear my son positive about school.”
“The opportunity to shift focus from the clinical aspects of my daughter’s condition to her education, with teacher support that has not been readily available through community and educational settings, is such a relief.”
What students are saying
“My tutor listens without judgement and helps me with my learning.”
“For the first time I feel I’m doing okay at school, which makes me feel so much better.”
“Having a tutor is great because I feel like I can ask them questions that sometimes I feel anxious about asking in the classroom. I think my tuition is going to help me get back on track.”
Critically, the Program has been approved to become part of our Learning Program moving forward. It demonstrates the Charity’s unique position by addressing the specific needs of children with health issues, ensuring the support they receive benefits them well beyond their time at RMHC.
Translating brochures into the voice of our families
At the end of 2021, RMHC secured funding to translate our family brochures into the five most commonly spoken languages in our Programs. These were Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish, Arabic and French.
As a charity that supports families across many nationalities, this will ensure RMHC families feel understood, informed and connected during a stressful time.
“If we really want to be inclusive, we have to think about how important it would be for non-English speaking families to have information in their own language.”
Translation is due to roll out in 2022 and will include information for around 14,400 families across all of our Programs.
We will work with the Family Advisory Council to ensure that the translated text is accurate and resonates with the families it supports.
House Program exit surveys
How can we support our families even more?
Asking this question is central to everything we do. The more we ask it, the more we’re able to improve families’ experiences at our Houses and ensure the support they get is always family-centred.
We asked our families
Each time a family leaves one of our Houses, we ask them six simple questions via a national exit survey.
Their responses help us understand what we’re doing well and where we can improve. They ensure our families are receiving the highest level of support at every stage of their child’s illness – from social and emotional to mental and practical support.
They also ensure we keep refining and improving our Programs, while adding new ones as the need arises.
This is what they said
“I was able to actively participate in my child’s care.”
“RMHC kept my family close while my child was receiving treatment.”
“RMHC supported my overall wellbeing.”
“RMHC helped me to manage my stress levels.”
553 guests competed the survey between June and November 2021.
While we are still in the initial stages of our research, these surveys are central to our strategic plan. Over time, findings will be used to bring greater emotional support and wellbeing to our families, increase the services we offer and make a family-centred approach the gold standard across our Programs.