To all young patients, clowns will bring your temperature down
Since 1999 the Clowndoctors have been successfully working with children in hospitals and hospices assisting with their treatment and recovery through the use of participative arts activities including puppetry, storytelling, music, dancing, slapstick and role-playing. The Clowndoctors work in close partnership with health care staff, who refer individual children to the programme.
The programme has been shown to help children overcome feelings of powerlessness, boredom, loss of self-esteem, difficulty with communication or physical skills and lack of participation in group activities.
The benefits offered by the Clowndoctors include participation, empowerment, access to the arts, distraction and stimulation, demystification of medical procedures and communication through the arts.
Meet the Clowndoctors
Clowndoctors activities are delivered in character and the standard Clowndoctors outfit is the red nose and the yellow doctors coat. The red nose is a universal sign of playfulness. The visual identity compliments the Clowndoctors characters: Dr Foot-Twanger, Dr McFlea, Dr Molotoff, Dr Soundsgood, Dr Pavlova, Dr Superdoc, Dr Spritely and Dr Sprout.
‘Sad before, happy after’ a 13 year-old child patient on his feelings about a Clowndoctors visit
The Clowndoctors work across the Royal Hospitals for Sick Children in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and with Rachel House Hospice, Ninewells Hospital in Dundee and residential units in Edinburgh and Livingston. The programme runs for 40 weeks of the year, with breaks at Christmas, Easter and in July/August. Hearts&Minds’ vision is to offer access to the Clowndoctors programme to every child admitted to hospital and hospice care in Scotland.
'The whole family eagerly anticipated regularly seeing these compassionate, sensitive, very funny people with red noses. They are magic. They made my daughter laugh. She couldn’t walk or talk but she laughed and that kept us all going; the catastrophe was bearable.’
Mother of four-year old who sustained brain injuries in a road traffic accident
The Clowndoctors are professional performing artists who have been trained to work with children in a health care setting.
Hearts&Minds looks for the following skills and experience when recruiting new Clowndoctors: at least five years experience in working as a professional artist; experience in using the arts with vulnerable people; professional clowning training; maturity; compassion.
Clowndoctors are not volunteers - they are contracted by Hearts&Minds and paid for each session. All Clowndoctors must agree to the terms of Hearts&Minds' Confidentiality and Child Protection Policies, as well as undergoing police and health checks with each health-care unit they work in.
Clowndoctors Songlines was launched in August 2003 to offer specially developed music and storytelling activities for children who are blind or visually impaired, or children who have brain injuries. It is a two-year development funded by the National Lottery through the Scottish Arts Council. After a six-month period of research, development and training, with input from a music therapist and a music educationalist, delivery of Clowndoctors Songlines activities began in February 2004.
'As somebody whose own daughter had 11 operations before her 11th birthday, I think this is a tremendous project, because children often find hospital so bewildering'
Rhona Brankin former Minister for Culture
In partnership with The Presentation Business, based in Aberdeen, Hearts&Minds has developed a Clowndoctors website for children, to accompany the Clowndoctors art-in-health programme.
Launched in 2005, the site provides an additional point of contact and information for children who have enjoyed meeting the Clowndoctors. They can find out more about the Clowndoctors, send them a message and play games. There's a virtual gallery of children's artwork and drawings of the Clowndoctors can be downloaded to colour in.
The project is funded by the National Lottery through the Scottish Arts Council and received an Arts & Disability award from Arts & Business Scotland.
Clowndoctors is delivered by Hearts&Minds, a registered charity established in 1997. Based in Edinburgh, Hearts&Minds aims to promote the quality of life for people in hospital and hospice care through the performing arts. It achieves this aim by delivering participative arts-in-health programmes: the Clowndoctors programme for sick and hospitalised children and the Elderflowers programme for elderly people with dementia in hospital. The programmes are delivered by Hearts&Minds’ practitioner team – professional performing artists who undergo comprehensive arts-in-health training before working in a health care environment.
Find out more
1 Grindlay Street Court
Edinburgh EH3 9AR
T: 0131 477 2876 F: 0131 228 5554
Don't forget to visit the Clowndoctors online - the games section comes highly recommended!
Hearts&Minds is supported by the National Lottery through the Scottish Arts Council.