Accommodating Families During a Child’s Hospital Stay: Implications for Family Experience and Perceptions of Outcomes

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Family accommodation programs, such as Ronald McDonald House® (RMH), aim to facilitate family proximity and family-centered care during a child’s hospitalization, yet little is known about how the programs influence family experience. The aim of this study was to investigate the perspectives of families regarding the impact of the RMH stay on the family and their hospital experience and to explore the influence of demographic and clinical factors on family member views about their experience and outcome of their child’s hospitalization. Family members who spent one or more nights at an RMH in Southern California completed a cross-sectional, self-report survey that included descriptive information about the family and the hospital experience. The 2,081 respondents (53% mothers, 24% fathers, 7% other family members, and 15% multiple family members) generally reported positive experiences at RMH. Although effect sizes were small, families who stayed together for at least a portion of their stay believed more strongly that their ability to stay nearby improved their child’s recovery and that RMH helped their family to stay together. Cultural differences were also evident, with Hispanic families believing more strongly that RMH shortened their child’s hospital stay. A family’s ability to stay together and in close proximity during a pediatric hospital stay is facilitated by accommodations such as RMH and provides important benefits in terms of family experience, psychosocial well-being, and perceptions of child recovery. These services also contribute meaningfully to the priority of providing family-centered care.

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