Bringing Joy and Laughter to Hospitals

16 May 2023

The power of laughter is undeniable. It can bring joy, lighten our mood, and even provide relief from pain. For sick kids in hospital, laughter can be especially important, which is why the Clown Doctors at the Women & Children’s Hospital (WCH) in South Australia are so valuable.

A clown doctor visiting a patient in hospital.

In 2022, the Clown Doctors interacted with 13499 children, adults and staff members at WCH, providing a much-needed break from the stress and worry of hospital life. The easing of hospital restrictions has meant they can spread even more doses of fun and laughter to the people who need it most – and with the support of Morialta Charitable Trust, the Clown Doctors have already brought smiles to the faces of 11868 patients, carers and staff to date.

One patient who experienced the impact of the Clown Doctors firsthand is fifteen-year-old Mason. Mason was born with persistent Neonatal Hypoglycaemia and was diagnosed with Beckwith Weidmann Syndrome, a condition that was further complicated by autism and joint hypermobility. He had already spent a lot of time in hospital, but when he was diagnosed with severe scoliosis of the spine, hospital became even more challenging.

Mason’s corrective spinal surgery was necessary for him to live a normal life, but Covid-19 restrictions meant that his mother, Donna, was unable to have any family support during his hospital stay. However, the Clown Doctors were there to bring some much-needed joy into their lives.

On the day before his birthday, Donna asked the Clown Doctors if they could sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Mason. It was the start of a beautiful connection, and the Clown Doctors were able to make Mason forget his pain and come out of his shell. Despite his autism making it challenging to engage with new people, Mason was soon laughing and singing along with them.

The Clown Doctors’ impact went beyond just making Mason laugh. They provided a much-needed mental reprieve for him and his family. As Donna says, “To see the pain leave your child’s face, and to get a 15-minute mental reprieve is so important in a hospital setting. It’s a relief and a release that every parent with a sick child in hospital needs.”

Mason agrees, saying that the Clown Doctors made his hospital stay more bearable. They helped him forget about his pain and provided him with a sense of normalcy during a difficult time.

For Donna, the Clown Doctors were a ray of light during a dark time. “Our hospital experience was made so much better thanks to the Clown Doctors. Mentally the whole experience has taken a toll, but the bond developed between the Clown Doctors and Mason has allowed us to remember to laugh, to look for a positive where there is one and to keep going.”

The impact of the Clown Doctors on the lives of patients and their families is immeasurable. They provide a much-needed escape from the stress and worry of hospital life, and their visits can make a huge difference in a patient’s recovery. We hope that every child in every hospital across the country can experience the joy of a visit from the Clown Doctors.