Have you ever spent time in a hospital?
You’re away from family, friends and the comfort of your home – surrounded by unfamiliar people, and strange medical equipment and you feel sick. It’s not a pleasant experience for anyone.
Now imagine you’re a kid and you’re subjected to poking, prodding and possibly painful treatments, and you may not fully understand why.
It can be very scary and certainly not much fun; sometimes you just need of a friend to play and laugh with – that’s where Clown Doctors make all the difference.
What is a Clown Doctor?
Clown Doctors are professional performers that work in closely with doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to distract sick kids and their families by fun and laughter throughout the hospital.
They are specially trained by The Humour Foundation to work in hospitals and can be a welcome distraction during painful procedures, calm children visiting emergency and even provide encouragement occupational therapy and physiotherapy.
Watch Doctor Achoo at work singing to a young patient, Milly.
While Clown Doctors visit children’s wards, yet they can ‘treat’ any person they meet in the hospital, including parents, siblings, friends and hospital staff.
People of all ages benefit from their special kind of medicine. There are currently 60 Clown Doctors working in across 24 of Australia’s children’s hospitals and pediatric units.
Laughter is good medicine
We instinctively know that laughter is one of the best ways to deal with stressful situations, and science backs that up.
While humour is never going to replace medical treatments, and nor should it, research suggests it is potent form complementary therapy.
Laughter is known to release endorphins, improve circulation, stimulate the nervous system, heighten the immune system and may even lower blood pressure.
But more than this, laughter brightens the lives of people who need it and helps them feel more positive about themselves and their treatment, which can also be a powerful factor in healing and wellbeing.
Send in the clowns
From calming a screaming child to helping parents who are just holding it together and comforting staff after the trauma of losing a patient, these everyday heroes face it all with courage, compassion, good humour and silly antics - and that’s often just what the doctor ordered.
The Humour Foundation has big plans for the future, working hard to fund Clown Doctors in every children’s hospital in Australia five days a week, deliver outreach programs to I smaller and regional hospitals at least once a week and visit outback communities regularly, to deliver their special kind of medicine to every corner of Australia.
They need community support to make this big dream a reality. If you want to help visit http://www.humourfoundation.org.au/ for more information.