Selection of carer families

Carer families should be selected and vetted in conjunction with the Regional or District ROMAC Committee. Carer families may either be Rotarians, or members of the local community ideally from the patient’s native country. Identifying a family from a similar background to the patient assists in overcoming cultural and language issues.

Carer families must satisfy the requirements of the relevant WWC State Child Protection Act.

Carer families will be briefed well before the arrival of the ROMAC patient and parent/guardian on the ROMAC policy “Carer Families, Patient and Parent/Guardian”.

Guide for Hosting Clubs

For information related to hosting ROMAC children and their carers please consult the following guide.

Carer families should be selected and vetted in conjunction with the Regional or District ROMAC Committee.

Carer families may either be Rotarians, or members of the local community from the patient’s native country. Identifying a family from a similar background to the patient assists in overcoming cultural and language issues.

Carer families must satisfy the requirements of the relevant State Child Protection Act, or equivalent legislation.

Carer families should be briefed well before the arrival of the ROMAC patient and parent/guardian on the ROMAC policy “Carer Families, Patient and Parent/Guardian”.

It is requested that prior to arrival of the ROMAC patient, the Sponsor Rotary Club minute the fact of their sponsorship in their Board minutes and advise the District Insurance Officer and District Governor accordingly.

Representatives of the Sponsoring Rotary Club should join with members of the ROMAC Committee to meet the ROMAC Patient and parent/guardian at the airport, upon arrival. This will be very rewarding, and beneficial for future planning of the needs of the patient during their stay.

If it is known that the patient and parent/guardian do not speak English, having an interpreter available at the airport could be most beneficial to all concerned.
Patients and their parent/guardian often arrive with very little, and come from climates much warmer than ours. it is advisable to have some warm clothing available for them at the airport, especially in winter.

If your Club is providing accommodation for the ROMAC patient, the Carer family should also be present at the airport and will take the ROMAC patient and parent/guardian to their new home. They will have a clear understanding of their responsibilities, as set out in the “Guide to Carer’s Responsibilities”.

It is normal practice to have the patient medically examined as soon as possible after arrival. This is done by the treating surgeon or a paediatrician or a GP for any undiagnosed problems not listed in the Referral Form. A routine check list is available from the Regional Chair/District Chair for this purpose.

The patient and parent/guardian should be briefed as soon as possible after arrival by a representative of the ROMAC Committee and a member of the Sponsoring Rotary Club, in conjunction with an interpreter if necessary. This briefing should include a brief background to Rotary, the role of ROMAC (some past patients have been under the impression that ROMAC is a Government sponsored scheme), with an indication of the process that will be followed in looking after them during their stay. They should be given appropriate contact numbers in case of emergency.

It is likely that the patient and parent/guardian will stay with the Carer family for a short period prior to being admitted for their procedure. During this period, they will normally require a number of medical appointments for tests, etc.

Carer families should be provided with key contact details for the ROMAC Committee and sponsoring Rotary Club members.

A carer’s allowance may be paid, on a regular basis, to the carer family by the Region’s ROMAC Committee, if necessary. This should be used to provide for their basic needs and outgoings. Payment will be arranged on presentation of suitable documentation.

Check on the patient’s needs and assess what the Sponsoring Rotary Club can do to help – e.g. clothing, personal needs. Financial support for out of pocket expenses of the patient and guardian would be appreciated by ROMAC.

If the stay by the patient is prolonged, it may be necessary to consider rotation amongst host families. This needs to be discussed with the District ROMAC Committee/District ROMAC Chair. The ROMAC Committee must know at all times where the patient is.

It is important that the Rotary Club becomes involved with the patient and the Carer family, by way of respite assistance, to give them a break from time to time. In addition the Rotary Club should take an active interest in the ROMAC patient and guardian and include them and the Carer family in Club activities and Club family outings.

Depending on the age of the child, it may be necessary to provide suitable child/infant car seating to ensure compliance with legal requirements for transport of children in cars.

Should the Carer family not be able to provide transport to medical appointments, the Sponsoring Rotary Club usually provides a driver to take them to and from appointments. It is recommended that the driver have an additional passenger in the car when transporting only the patient.

It is the responsibility of the ROMAC Committee, normally through the Region or District Chair or Region Carer Manager to be in contact with the hospital, medical staff and surgeons regarding the patient’s wellbeing and future appointments.

A ROMAC Committee member will attend all appointments with the patient and parent/guardian.

When checking the child into the hospital, the address to be given is that of the ROMAC Region Chair, and the hospital is to be requested to send all accounts to that address.

The ROMAC Committee will ensure that the hospital has appropriate contact details in case the staff needs to contact a member of the Committee.
Whilst the patient is in hospital, the parent/guardian may stay with them.

Whilst the patient’s food requirements are catered for by the hospital, it is necessary to ensure that the parent/guardian’s needs are met. This may take the form of buying them meals from the hospital canteen, bringing them in food cooked by the Carer family or Rotarians, or providing them with cash so that they can look after their own needs. These arrangements need to be well defined and understood by all.

When the Patient is in hospital, draw up a ‘Visitations Roster’. This should generally not involve any more than up to two visitors at any one time. When at the hospital please be alert for anything untoward, such as food that is incompatible with their cultural likes and report to the ROMAC Committee, or discuss with hospital staff.

Recognise that visits may be limited during certain periods, for example, immediate post operative period, or whilst in Intensive Care.

A “Communications Book” has been successfully used in a number of instances, especially where there is a language issue, and the patient and/or parent/guardian cannot communicate easily with the hospital staff and visitors. This is a simple exercise book in which details can be recorded of appropriate contact persons, patient likes, dislikes and needs, record of visitors, what those visitors have brought along, especially food supplies, etc, relevant non-medical occurrences, such as notes from nurses, dieticians and physiotherapists on events between visits.

Nursing staff have been known to welcome such a book as quite often some of this type of information doesn’t get passed on at shift changes.

On rare occasions when problems arise it may be necessary to accommodate ROMAC patients and their parent/guardian close to the hospital. The Ronald McDonald Houses located at many of the major Children’s Hospitals offer a great facility and many are supported by their local Rotary Clubs.

Accommodation charges are very cheap and these costs will normally be met by the ROMAC Committee.

The Houses operate on a self-care basis, with bedding and towels provided, but residents are responsible for their own food, with a central kitchen available for cooking. Sponsoring Rotary Clubs will be responsible for ensuring that the patient and guardian have appropriate food supplies. A small amount of cash should also be given to the parent/guardian so that they can look after their personal needs, although in many instances they will be unfamiliar with our currency, prices, etc, so guidance is required.

Whilst the patient and parent/guardian are resident within the House, daily contact will be required from the Sponsoring Rotary Club.

Members of the sponsoring Rotary Club generally become quite attached to the ROMAC patient and their parent/guardian during their stay and a farewell function may well be appropriate.

ROMAC patients and their families are usually not well off, and have never had much money or material things – they must return to these conditions. A good thing to remember for all our patients is “Keep it Simple” and appreciate that over spoiling them may not be in their long term interests. It may be better to consider support for their community as a whole, rather than giving them something individually that may set them aside from their own community on their return – each case must be judged on its merits, depending on individual patient circumstances.

Excess luggage must be avoided. ROMAC does not encourage or support patients returning home with any excess luggage and it is not ROMAC’s responsibility to pay for excess luggage (check limits for all flights). Bulky goods should be avoided as their final plane maybe very small and reject bulky objects.

A ‘Thank-You Function’ coordinated through your District ROMAC Chair, for those that facilitated the treatment such as surgeons, other hospital staff, carer families etc, is a great way to express Rotary and ROMAC’s appreciation to those involved. Appropriate Certificates of Appreciation are available through the ROMAC Committee.

Sponsoring Rotary Clubs should endeavour to visit neighbouring Rotary Clubs with our patient and parent/ guardian, to assist in promoting the work of ROMAC, to encourage other clubs to also become involved just like yours.

The Hosting Rotary Club should ensure that they know the phone numbers of the ROMAC Regional and District Committee members. Please call them at any time to discuss any queries that may arise, or any concerns – they will be of the utmost support at all times.

Sponsoring a ROMAC patient is a very rewarding and heart warming experience. It will not be long before this child, to whom you have recently bonded, will have a special place in your hearts, as you take the journey with them, through surgery and recovery. The support from Hosting Rotary Clubs is paramount to the success of the ROMAC program.