Charity provides motel rooms for families with someone in hospital

HELPING OUT: Heartfelt Homes founder Caroline Meehan. Photo: JANIE BARRETT

HELPING OUT: Heartfelt Homes founder Caroline Meehan. Photo: JANIE BARRETT

A charity that provides motel and hotel rooms for people needing crisis accommodation while a family member is in hospital is starting up in Orange.

Heartfelt Homes will help people travelling from out of town to be near a loved one in Orange hospital.

It already helps families from Orange and the Central West find temporary accommodation when they visit a loved one in Sydney hospitals.

Founder Caroline Meehan visited Orange last weekend to meet council, hospital and accommodation providers.

Miss Meehan said families in need would be referred to them through Orange Health Service (OHS) social workers.

She said they could provide motel rooms normally costing more than $160 a night to families in need for $50 a night.

Miss Meehan said it was the first time her group had opened a regional service.

She said the OHS had been asking for her service for a year.

“Because the area they service is so vast. There are many families who have to travel 100km. They need a private room.”

She said they were able to get cheaper rooms through deals based on volume.

Miss Meehan said it provided accommodation for needy families and helped fill otherwise empty rooms.

She said the initial response from Orange motels had been “wonderful”.

“It’s the most positive response we have had.”

She said two motels had already signed up and she expected to add one more.

Miss Meehan started the service after her partner was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2013 and they had to travel from their northern NSW home to Brisbane where he was hospitalised three times a week.

“I learned about just how much regional people struggle with this,” she said.

Miss Meehan said she was paying for petrol, parking and city room rates of $180 a night.

“It’s financially really trying and emotionally it’s really draining as well.”

The service is similar to the one Ronald McDonald House (RMH) provides for the families of sick children – but it is for people of all ages.

RMH  executive officer Rebecca Walsh said she hoped to make contact with Miss Meehan to discuss how the groups could complement each other.

Orange City Council deputy mayor Jason Hamling said council would help provide the group with contacts.

“Our role would be to hook them up with the right people in Orange.

“The Orange people and community are always willing to help out or put their hands in their pockets where funding is needed,” he said. 

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