Empathy combined with expertise helps deliver the largest Ronald McDonald House in Australia
Ronald McDonald House Charities is an independent not-for-profit organisation whose stated mission is to create, find, and support programmes that directly improve the health and well-being of children. Ronald McDonald House facilities not only provide a sanctuary for families a long way from home, but also communal spaces where they can interact and support each other in times of need.
With the closure of the Royal Children’s Hospital and the completion of Brisbane’s Lady Cilento Children's Hospital (LCCH) in South Brisbane in December 2014, focus quickly shifted to the demand for nearby accommodation for the families of seriously ill children being treated at LCCH and the Mater Mothers’ Hospital. In response, Ronald McDonald House envisioned the need for a new purpose-built ‘home away from home’ for families at their most vulnerable, close to these locations.
A key objective for the residential sanctuary was to encourage guest families to offer comfort, mutual support and hope to one another while their children endure serious illness and undergo medical treatment.
The project presented the Aurecon team with a challenge: delivering the project within a highly congested, inner-city medical precinct that presented planning restrictions, while delivering the project with a key focus on the health and wellbeing of children and their families.
“The site was so tightly constrained by surrounding buildings that the challenge to construct anything in this space has been compared to key-hole surgery, on a grand scale. However, the project also presented a great opportunity for Aurecon to genuinely add value to this important social infrastructure project,” said Aurecon Project Leader Kayla Bolton.
Empathetic communication meant project challenges were quickly overcome. The Aurecon team coached the project partners to support the client’s decision-makers by gaining a detailed understanding of Ronald McDonald Houses, their users, staff and volunteers. Aurecon facilitated this by establishing a series of site liaison meetings to provide direct contact between the project partners and RMH South Brisbane key stakeholders. This forum led to a shared understanding of the unique issues faced by the client and their stakeholders.
“Not only did the project partners learn how to better engage and communicate, becoming more effective and efficient decision-makers, they also learned new skills from respecting and trusting in others’ perspectives. With trust and camaraderie, project challenges became opportunities to collaborate more broadly,” added Kayla.
In October 2016, the first families arrived at the Ronald McDonald House in South Brisbane, which served as their temporary ‘home away from home’. The facility is instilled with the hope and comfort that guest families from outlying areas of Queensland and Northern NSW need – especially in distressing times.