New relaxation room for families of young patients at IMH

The new Ronald McDonald Family Room at IMH to provide a place of rest and respite for parents whose children are seeking treatment at the hospital.
The new Ronald McDonald Family Room at IMH to provide a place of rest and respite for parents whose children are seeking treatment at the hospital.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO
(From left) Chief executive of IMH Chua Hong Choon, president of RMHC Singapore Pamela Tor Das, and chairman of the medical board of IMH Daniel Fung, with the Ronald McDonald mascot at the opening of the new Ronald McDonald Family Room at IMH.
(From left) Chief executive of IMH Chua Hong Choon, president of RMHC Singapore Pamela Tor Das, and chairman of the medical board of IMH Daniel Fung, with the Ronald McDonald mascot at the opening of the new Ronald McDonald Family Room at IMH.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - A new facility has been set up at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) for families and caregivers of young patients to take a break and unwind.

The 59 sq m room, officially opened on Wednesday (Jan 17), comes with a lounge, a fully-stocked kitchen and dining area, a TV, books and Wi-Fi .

"We wanted to look after parents' physical and emotional needs... They have to stay up all night to look after their kids, which can be very demanding," said Dr Ong Say How, chief and senior consultant at IMH's Department of Developmental Psychiatry.

IMH's Sunrise Wing cares for those aged six to 18, and sees about 5,000 outpatient visits at its clinic and 400 inpatient admissions each year.

Dr Ong said the IMH does not have many facilities that could be used as waiting areas and consultations, or one-to-one sessions between the patient and therapist, can last more than an hour.

The new facility, called the Ronald McDonald Family Room, cost $270,000 to build and can hold up to 24 people at any time.

It started operations on Dec 18 last year and 59 families have been registered into its biometric system database, which gives them access to the room on weekdays from 9am to 7pm.

The Sunrise Wing sees patients with conditions ranging from milder ones such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder to serious mental disorders like schizophrenia and severe depression, said Dr Ong.

Its ward houses 20 out of the hospital's 2,000 beds and usually has an occupancy rate of at least 70 per cent. The average inpatient stay ranges between 10 and 14 days.

The new facility is opened jointly by the IMH and Ronald McDonald House Charities Singapore. The charity had also set up a relaxation room at the National University Hospital.

The charity partnered IMH earlier in 2016 to set up the Centre for Life and Academic Skills at Sunrise Wing. Classrooms were set up, with specialist teachers and education psychologists on hand to keep patients on top of their studies.