RMH BC Playroom
Credit: RMH BC. The renovated playroom

Local designers and builders renovated and enhanced the facility’s playroom, teen lounge and outdoor sports court

Having a sick child is something that nobody wants to experience, and being away from them while they’re in the hospital is even worse. To help keep everyone together, Vancouver’s Ronald McDonald House BC & Yukon (RMH BC) offers accommodation to families with kids undergoing treatment at nearby BC Children’s Hospital.

We’ve got the sick children, the siblings and then the parents as well, so the amenities and spaces we have in the house include fitness rooms, the games room, the Lego lounge, the teen lounge and a music studio,” CEO Richard Pass tells BCBusiness. “A variety of things for the families when theyre here, because if theyre here for a short-term stay—say, for a checkup—it can be five-ish nights. But for someone with a cancer diagnosis, I think the longest stay weve had is just under 500 days consecutively, so theyre actually living here for a couple of years.” 

When Pass joined in 2006, the organization could only serve 12 families. After raising $32 million to expand its services, the new RMH BC opened in 2014 with 73 bedrooms. But even though the facility usually serves 2,000 families a year, with strict COVID protocols in place, the number of resident families has been reduced from 73 to 58.

RMH BC Teen loungeRMH BC. The new teen lounge

The pandemic also allowed time for reassessment. “The communal spaces—the play spaces—are heavily used,” Pass explains. “When things with COVID were on and we couldn’t use the communal spaces in the same way, it seemed like a great opportunity to take the time to renovate and refresh to get them back up to the best for when we can reopen again.” 

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With contributions from the B.C. building and design community, the past year has seen the house undergo renovations to its playroom and teen lounge, as well as the installation of a mural in the outdoor sports court.  

Before redesigning the playroom, Jamie Banfield spoke to the children at RMH BC about what they would like. Built by Alair Homes, the room now offers various options for play, from dress-up to kitchen preparation to grocery shopping. When Pass asked two young residents if they thought anything was missing from the new space, one of the girls pointed out that they didn’t have the right costumes. “Two days later, we were able to secure the costumes that she felt were absolutely key,” he recalls with a laugh. 

The teen lounge was redone by Cathy Radcliffe of Cathy Radcliffe Design and Margot Jagger of Wilson Road. The idea was to make a Zen space in soothing colours, with artwork and new games and activities. “For RMH BC’s new teen lounge, now renamed The Den, we wanted to create the feeling of visiting a good friend’s basement rec room, where kids gather to chill, to sprawl, and to just be teens—a cosy home away from home,” said Radcliffe and colleague Teigan Jorgensen in a release.