A home away from home: Helping our patients and families through their treatment experience

Two women looking at book

From left, Chassity Oliver and Monica Townsend, both of Housing and Patient Services, discuss a project. St. Jude’s Housing and Patient Services team has a collective goal of helping make sure families maintain their quality of life while they focus on their child’s treatment.

This summer, our Target House facility is celebrating its 20th anniversary of being a home away from home for St. Jude patients and families. In May, we honored the anniversary by hosting a huge party at Target House—a cookout and evening of entertainment for our families.

Patients who are undergoing treatment longer than three months typically stay at the facility, which is one of four housing facilities that serve St. Jude. Target House features apartments that offer privacy, independence and a supportive environment. In addition, patients and families who travel to St. Jude stay in Ronald McDonald House, Tri-Delta Place and in furnished apartments located not far from campus at Crosstown Concourse.

St. Jude is planning the construction of another patient housing facility to accommodate the growing numbers of patients that we are now treating. The new building will be a mix of short-term suites and long-term apartments and will offer two and three-bedroom units, flexible dining options and outdoor areas that offer families space for fun and recreation.

It’s a project that shows our institution’s commitment to ensuring that the environment of care is as comfortable and supportive as possible to ease our patients’ treatment journeys.

Our Housing and Patient Services team has many areas of responsibility, but the staff's goal is the same—to provide services that help families maintain their quality of life while they focus on their child’s treatment. We view our role as a partnership with the patient's clinical team since we interact with virtually every patient who comes to St. Jude.

We provide several support services for St. Jude families—whether it’s making a housing reservation for an out-of-town patient, scheduling transportation for a local patient or organizing pizza and movie nights for teens in housing.

In addition, our team coordinates services for patients in housing, organizing fun and recreational activities such as arts-and-crafts, Bingo and field trips to move theaters and other local attractions. Housing offers grab-and-go breakfasts and dinners for families during the week. Families who are staying in long-term housing also receive non-perishable pantry items to supplement their grocery stipends.

We provide many additional services to support the mental and emotional health of the patients and families in housing. Life is more than just four walls in housing. We provide families with a sense of community, normalcy and respite.

About the Author

Caron Byrd
Caron Byrd, JD, is the director of Housing and Patient Services at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.