Clowns help patients see the funny side of life.
Subject: Clowns (Social aspects)
Nurses (Practice)
Nurses (Training)
Nurses (Social aspects)
Patients (Care and treatment)
Patients (Methods)
Pub Date: 03/01/2010
Publication: Name: Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand Publisher: New Zealand Nurses' Organisation Audience: Trade Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Health care industry Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 New Zealand Nurses' Organisation ISSN: 1173-2032
Issue: Date: March, 2010 Source Volume: 16 Source Issue: 2
Topic: Event Code: 290 Public affairs; 200 Management dynamics; 280 Personnel administration
Product: Product Code: 8043100 Nurses NAICS Code: 621399 Offices of All Other Miscellaneous Health Practitioners
Geographic: Geographic Scope: New Zealand Geographic Code: 8NEWZ New Zealand
Accession Number: 222485343
Full Text: Clown doctors aim to increase the well-being of patients and restore patients' healing powers using humour, and they could be coming to a hospital near you.

A clown doctors' programme has been running at Christchurch Hospital since last September. Clowns, who have been through a two-week training programme, visit the children's wards, oncology, high dependency unit and acute medical assessment ward weekly, and geriatric patients at Princess Margaret Hospital fortnightly.

Christchurch Hospital child health psychologist Tony White is a strong supporter of the scheme. "Resources that focus on the emotional aspects of healing and caring for people are few and far between, and are often considered a luxury. This resource adds to that, and costs the hospital nothing, as the clowns are paid by a charitable trust."

The clown doctors' imitative was introduced to New Zealand by Christchurch-based German holistic health scientist and human behaviour researcher Thomas Petschner. "Clown doctors have been particularly successful in Europe, Australia and much of the United States," he said. "Clown doctors are ideally professional clowns, performing artists, or talented actors who have received comprehensive medical clowning training. Before going into the hospital, they also receive some basic medical training, giving them the skills and knowledge to understand some of the complexities of illnesses and human behaviour, which are the basis for any work in a hospital setting."


Further training programmes will run in Auckland this month and in Wellington later in the year.

Enrolled nurse Allen little, who works as a recreation officer in aged care in Levin, undertook the initial clown doctor training in Christchurch and is enthusiastic about the potential for good that he sees in clown doctors. He has played a zany down named "Aljo" for some time and hopes to put his new skills to good use.

"Every nurse has a responsibility to promote wellness and humour among the sick, who are often intimidated by procedures and technologies of modern care. Clown doctors are not your typical doctors but they will be prescribing the ultimate medicine, laughter."

Little encourages nurses to promote this initiative by seriously thinking about opportunities for local clowns in particular areas of responsibility. "If you want to involve clown doctors in your hospital, or have a special workshop on the impact of humour on patients and staff, or would simply like more information about the Clown Doctors New Zealand Charitable Trust, visit, email or phone 03 669 3322," he said.
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