Home for parents of seriously ill children
By SUSIE WELDON
WORRIED parents sleeping on benches in hospital corridors, so they can spend every possible minute with their seriously ill children, could soon be a thing of the past.
Next year, parents will have the use of a house built specifically as short-term accommodation for families with children undergoing hospital treatment.
The house will be built in To Shek Village, a five-minute walk from the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin. It will have 20 bedrooms, each with a bathroom, and a communal kitchen, laundry and living area.
A $7 million start-up grant has been awarded to the project by Ronald McDonald Children's Charities, which is spearheading a drive to raise the $3 million extra funding needed.
Charity board director Daniel Ng said the charity had established more than 150 such houses around the world, but the To Shek house would be the first in Asia.
The charity hopes the house will be a ''home away from home'', where parents can prepare their own meals, wash their clothes and get a good night's sleep so that they can devote all their energies to their sick children.
Mr Ng said families were placed under great stress when a child fell seriously ill, adding he hoped the house would have a therapeutic effect on parents.
''We've found that parents with sick kids do not find it easy to communicate with other adults because they feel very guilty that their child is sick,'' he said. But at the house they could meet and talk to other parents in the same situation.
Surveys of relatives of paediatric patients found 53 per cent of those questioned in June, and 70 per cent of those questioned in July, said they would like to use such a facility.
The house, which will open next year, will serve 1,400 families a year who will pay a nominal amount yet to be decided.