Tuesday, May 24, 2022

A Look at the Core Programs of Ronald McDonald House Charities

Since launching its first Ronald McDonald House in 1974, Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) has expanded to provide support programs for families worldwide dealing with childhood illness. The charity has also expanded its services to include pediatric medical and dental care programs in underserved communities. Today, RMHC operates at least one of the following core programs on nearly every continent:

Ronald McDonald House Programs

At the heart of RMHC’s work are its Ronald McDonald Houses. These facilities are located near major children’s hospitals and provide parents and other family members with a comforting and supportive environment where they can focus on caring for their sick children. Families who must travel for their children’s medical care are able to stay at a Ronald McDonald House free of charge with other families going through similar experiences.

In addition to lodging, the Ronald McDonald House programs provide home-cooked meals and various support services, including education programs, sibling support services, and children’s art therapy. With their proximity to hospitals, the houses enable parents to better communicate with their children’s medical teams and participate in their care. Being close to the hospital also provides psychological benefits for families, and parents report getting better quality sleep and having more positive hospital experiences. To date, there are more than 375 Ronald McDonald House programs operating worldwide.

Ronald McDonald Family Room Programs

As a complement to the Ronald McDonald Houses, RMHC operates Ronald McDonald Family Rooms, which provide a safe haven for families directly inside their children’s hospital. There’s no waiting list to receive access to a Ronald McDonald Family Room. In fact, the spaces are open to any family who has a child receiving care in a hospital where one of the rooms is located. Currently, there are more than 265 Ronald McDonald Family Rooms operated by local RMHC chapters.

While the amenities vary, most of the rooms provide private bathrooms and shower facilities, Internet access, and a kitchen with snacks. There are also sleeping rooms where families can take a nap and, in some cases, stay overnight. Many of the rooms also provide medical reference books and a quiet room for reading and simply relaxing outside of a clinical environment.

Ronald McDonald Care Mobile

To help the millions of children around the world who don’t have access to basic medical and dental care, RMHC launched its Ronald McDonald Care Mobile program. Working in partnership with clinical service providers, the program delivers medical diagnoses and treatment and dental services via 40-foot vehicles. Each vehicle is equipped with many of the same diagnostic and treatment tools found in office-based medical clinics and is staffed by medical and dental professionals such as doctors, nurses, dentists, and dental hygienists. The program, which includes over 45 Care Mobiles, serves children and young people from birth to 21 years of age, and no one is turned away for an inability to pay.

The Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles provide services specific to the communities they serve, but these typically include immunizations, well-child visits, and primary care for common health issues. Some vehicles also provide prenatal care for pregnant teens and mental health assessments. Preventative and restorative dental care is offered as well. In addition to providing direct care for children, teens, and young adults, the program delivers health education and resources, including nutrition counseling and oral hygiene education.

More information about RMHC’s core programs and the ways you can support them is available at http://www.rmch.org.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Project Sunshine: Using Art to Help Pediatric Patients Thrive

Hospitals in the US admit more than 3 million children every year. Of these, some are planned cases involving children receiving specialized treatment and care. Others are unplanned, involving children who end up in hospitals for sudden illnesses or injuries. Hospitalization, whether planned or unplanned, impacts a child’s well-being. Project Sunshine strives to make children’s stay in hospitals across the US bearable by leveraging art.

Repeated and prolonged contact with the healthcare system affects children and their families in numerous ways. For instance, it separates children from their families. And separation is a major stressor due to the anxiety stemming from being in a strange environment. In the short term, a child may experience a loss of sleep and appetite. Prolonged hospitalization impacts children’s development, especially those aged six months to four years.

Armed with this knowledge, Project Sunshine, a not-for-profit organization, seeks to transform hospitals across the US into child-friendly spaces to alleviate hospitalization impacts on pediatric patients. Project Sunshine also operates in China, Canada, Kenya, and Israel.

It has over 20,000 volunteers across 175 cities who work with newborn to 21-year-old patients. Project Sunshine volunteers also work with outpatients, including those receiving home-based and institutional care.

Project Sunshine’s volunteer creatives work with families to inspire pediatric patients to become active through games, artwork, and other play-oriented activities. Interactions can be in-person or virtual.

The organization draws its in-person volunteers from the local communities and trains them accordingly. Its streamlined, monthly training ensures volunteers use developmentally, age-appropriate creative arts and craft items they are comfortable with. Then, depending on hospital schedules and agreements with families, volunteers visit children and take them through various creative sessions.

Other in-person volunteering activities include Party Time. Party Time is a kids’ program designed to ensure that pediatric patients never miss out on the fun, especially during the festive seasons. Because Party Time events are large-scale, Project Sunshine sponsors organize them and send their own groups of volunteers. Project Sunshine staff oversees the events.

Then there is the Caregiver Wellness, a program that turns a designated room in the hospital into a relaxing environment. Volunteers visit kids and take them through various creative activities, such as painting and building. Parents and caregivers also benefit from such activities as massages and yoga exercises.

And when suitable volunteers are too far to make in-person visits, they can interact with children virtually. Project Sunshine calls it TelePlay, a program that uses various video technologies to deliver play and other creative activities to pediatric patients. Through TelePlay, virtual volunteers can teach kids how to paint, mold, or build staff.

Like, the Program Boxes used in in-person creatives sessions, TelePlay activities, too, are developmentally appropriate. Virtual volunteers also come in handy when in-person visits are prohibited, or a child cannot step outside.

Sending Sunshine Activity Kids is another Project Sunshine program for engaging kids through art. The organization specifies age and developmentally appropriate activity kits that well-wishers can purchase and send to various hospitals and homes. Kits include Basketball Kits (suitable for five-year-olds and teens), Building Kits (age five and above), Caregiver Kits (for parents, caregivers, and teen patients), Mandala Kits (for children with developmental and behavioral needs), and Crown Kits (for pre-school children).

The immediate and long-term impacts of hospitalization on children and their families are well-documented. The longer a child stays in a hospital, the greater the exposure to stressors. The poorer also are their health outcomes. Project Sunshine recognizes this vicious cycle and strives to make treatment and caregiving environments kid-friendly. Pediatric patients who interact with the outside world report better health outcomes.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Benefits of In-Home Care for Seniors with Chronic Illnesses

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 80 percent of seniors in the US have at least one chronic illness. More than 50 percent have at least two chronic conditions. Older persons’ quality of life can deteriorate due to many chronic conditions to manage and complex healthcare systems to navigate, not to mention care and treatment to afford. For most people, in-home care is better than institutional care. Here is how at-home care alleviates suffering and boosts the quality of life of older persons with chronic illnesses.

Globally, there will be over 400 million persons aged 60 and above by 2050, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The US expects the number of 65 year-olds and above to hit 80.8 million by 2040, a significant increase from the 2019 figure (54.1 million).

The ever-increasing life expectancy, coupled with the associated vulnerability of seniors to various chronic illnesses, will strain the healthcare system. Additionally, the social burden resulting from hospitalization and personal care (or lack thereof) will also increase. The most prevalent age-related chronic illnesses are dementia, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular conditions.

A vicious cycle will ensue, which, left unaddressed, will affect older persons’ quality of life and dampen their health outcomes. Older persons with chronic illnesses need help navigating everyday tasks, such as taking a bath, cooking, or moving around. The extent of care depends on the condition. Some seniors might need specialized care and assistance from trained caregivers. In some cases, help from family and friends is enough.

Continuous provision of in-home care can significantly improve seniors’ quality of life and health, thus increasing life expectancy. Institutional settings, such as independent living facilities, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and continuing care retirement communities, offer alternative care services for older persons. But most do not offer the kind of attention some residents need and receive.

At-home care is more intimate and compassionate. And given that isolation is a leading cause of depression and other mental health challenges among older persons, some would benefit more from in-home care than at a care facility. When cared for by friends and family, older persons may feel less isolated or neglected. This sense of connectedness with loved ones, coupled with the homely feel of the care environment, has been shown to help persons with chronic illnesses thrive.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to anticipate the kind and level of care a senior with a chronic illness will require down the road. What’s more, taking care of a person with a chronic condition can be challenging.

For one, there are mobility concerns to consider. If one needs help with getting on and off the wheelchair, the in-home care team must have physically capable persons. But then again, help from loved ones and friends is not guaranteed. This, coupled with the persistent nature of most chronic conditions and the huge toll it can take on caregivers, in-home can become challenging.

A team of dependable, consistent caregivers is vital for ensuring seniors never feel like a burden. Hiring respite care might also help. Trained respite caregivers can step in occasionally to relieve at-home caregivers. They can also offer specialized care through routine checks, diet, exercise routine planning. Professionals can also offer insights into a condition’s diagnosis and progress.

Old age comes with unique challenges. There is the inevitable dependency due to the loss of functional abilities. Then there are old age-related chronic illnesses. The two combine to hurt seniors. Thankfully, with proper planning, many older persons can receive at-home care. In-home care will reduce healthcare costs for families. It’ll also ease the burden on the healthcare system while improving health outcomes, quality of life, and life expectancy of older persons with chronic illnesses.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Some Tips for Proper Self-Care While on a Travel

Although traveling is the period to unwind, you need to maintain proper self-care to enjoy your travel. Self-care is an essential part of your travel experience. With so many new sights and noises, it’s only natural to disregard the warning signs and put self-care on the back burner. However, establishing your self-care strategy while traveling will help you maintain hale and heartiness on your trip.

A good night’s sleep will go a long way in helping you maintain proper self-care while on a trip. Sleep deprivation affects every part of your body, from your mental health to your physical well-being. If your sleep schedule is out of place, it may likely affect your mental and physical well-being, affecting your efficiency on your trip. To combat this, try to uphold your sleeping regimen. Further, you may use an eye mask or earplugs to enhance your sleeping peace.

For your mental and physical well-being, it is helpful to take walks or brisk strolls to get some fresh air and exercise your legs. Travel can accumulate a lot of stress on you mentally and physically. This is why strolling for a few minutes can help you unwind and settle down.

You can take a few minutes in the morning to stretch your muscles when you wake up. It may ease your mind and set you up for a productive day. And when you get back from your outing, you could also take a walk to clear your head and reflect on things.

Properly hydrating while on a trip is one of the most crucial things you must ensure. Hydration does not only have to do with drinking water but also drinking enough water timely. While on travel, you may get carried away with the excitement or other things and deprive yourself of hydration.

Dehydration does not only put you at risk of severe health conditions. It may truncate your travel experience by making you subconsciously fatigued. You should set up triggers or alarms that remind you to hydrate properly. For example, you can carry along a flask or water bottle everywhere you go.

Eating healthy is another tip to maintaining proper self-care while on travel. While on a trip, you should try incorporating a piece of fruit or vegetable into your diet. While traveling, it may be tempting to overindulge in junk food. As enticing as the local delicacies may be, it’s best to stick to healthy options while on a trip. It will help you maintain a healthy lifestyle and may aid you in avoiding minor health complications.

In keeping up with your health, you should also get a first aid kit at your disposal. In case you sustain an injury, first aid kits are your immediate go-to for care. A proper kit will contain at least safety gloves, bandages, scissors, and tweezers. These items may aid you when you sustain an injury until you receive proper health care.

If your travel is business-related, you should take some time out to relax and connect with nature. It may help relieve you and help you feel less tired. You can go hiking, go on a boat ride, set up a picnic, or simply go sightseeing and let your thoughts take a breather.

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A Look at the Core Programs of Ronald McDonald House Charities

Since launching its first Ronald McDonald House in 1974, Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) has expanded to provide support programs f...