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Nursing Home Clowning

Discussion in 'Hospital Clowning' started by Jamdealie, Aug 8, 2007.

  1. Jamdealie

    Jamdealie New Member

    Hi everyone,
    I am writing a paper on the therapeutic benefits of one-on-one clowning visits within facilities such as nursing homes.

    My clown character visits a specified list of residents once a month at a nursing home near me. Not only am I tracking my observations, but the staff at the nursing home is also doing so.

    Would I would like from all of you that have experienced clowning within nursing homes, assisted living facilities, or any facility type that houses the elderly, is to contact me with your personal experiences.

    My hope is to find someone that would then be interested in funding a bonafide pilot study focused on the elderly, particularly those that have been diagnosed with depression, have self-isolated themselves, and/or have no family/friends that visit.

    These types of visits are vastly different from hospital clowning for a number of reasons.

    If you'd like to share your real life experiences of how your clown character has interacted with the elder population residing in a facility (good and even 'not so good' outcomes) please let me know how I should connect with you so that I may interview you for this paper.

    To see the initial idea started with one nursing home, read http://www.clownsentertain.com/therapy.html

    • Thanks Thanks x 3
  2. Fitzwilly

    Fitzwilly COAI Secretary

    You really should contact Patty Wooten and Shobhana Schwekbe (ShobiDobi@aol.com). These two ladies have a tremendous amount of knowledge in the area of therapeutic clowning. There is also AATH (American Association for Therapeutic Humor).
    • Thanks Thanks x 2
  3. Jamdealie

    Jamdealie New Member

    Thanks! I just sent her a note.
  4. Mindy

    Mindy New Member

    Nursing Home Visits

    I've been visiting two nursing homes for about 3 years. I visit every Wednesday morning. The patients know me and look forward to my visits. Several want me to sit and visit for a short time. Others welcome my hugs. I ALWAYS give them a sticker. There is a 11x18" "Poster" for each patient in their room. They either take their sticker off their clothes in the evening and put it on the poster or I put the sticker on the poster instead of on them. IF I should forget my stickers, they remind me that I'm supposed to have them. I enjoy my visits as much as they do....I think!
    Mindy the Clown
    • Thanks Thanks x 4
  5. dee

    dee New Member

    You might wanna contact Dr Patch Adams. A Living Legend. Clown doctor.

  6. Jamdealie

    Jamdealie New Member

    Hi Mindy,
    Is there one person in particular that has responded positvely to your clowning visits? In what way? I'm looking for a particualr examples of responses.

    For an example of what I mean: One of the people on my list to visit is an 85 year old man with dementia that rarely speaks. The staff warned me that he would most likely not even make eye contact with me. As soon as I walked in to his room and starting speaking he looked up. When he saw Jamdealie, his whole face lit up and, my what a smile. He laughed at my magic and juggling and commented on the make-up and then began to tell me about his days in the circus. He said his name was Soda Pop and that he'd performed professionally for years, but couldn't remember the name of the circus.

    Since my first visit, the staff has been thrilled with his response. He's still not a happy camper 100% of the time (who is?) but all they have to do is remind him of when my next visit is scheduled for and his complete persona changes. And most importantly, now that everyone there knows that he was once a clown, and that this was an important part of his being, they have found common ground with him. He may not want to talk about current events, but he will socialize if he gets to talk about the circus.

    That's just one tiny example but this is the kind of thing I'm looking for. Thanks!
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  7. Jamdealie

    Jamdealie New Member

    I know about Patch and his Institute. In fact, was hoping (once I get more data collected) that his organization may actually want to fund the pilot study. Are you friendly enough with these folks to extend an introduction between me and the folks there?
  8. Fitzwilly

    Fitzwilly COAI Secretary

    You should also contact Annette Darragh with Clowns Care Inc. www.clownscareinc.org For years she has trained clowns for hospital work in the Birmingham, AL area. A great lady.
    Also have you researched the Big Apple Circus? And there is a third program that is very reputable but I don't remember the name or contact info right now.
  9. Jamdealie

    Jamdealie New Member

    Thanks! I'll get in touch with her early next week!
  10. Mindy

    Mindy New Member

    Nursing Home Visits

    I can't think of one particular response. ALL of the patients respond positively to me. I do not do magic when I'm there. I simply sit down and visit. Sometimes they tell me about their past lives and I can tell they are reliving their youth. Sometimes they need a shoulder to cry on. Whatever their need on that particular day....I try to fill it.
  11. Jamdealie

    Jamdealie New Member

    Thanks for sharing Mindy. I am still gathering specifics but will let you and everyone else know when I finish writing the next article on this topic.

    I love it when I can make 'em laugh. Especially when you see the laughter deep in their eyes (soul) So very wonderful.
  12. Daybreakventure

    Daybreakventure New Member

    Most nursing homes and rehab centers welcome Caring Clowns to their facilities. Most of the residents love the clowns and are extremely appreciative of a clown visit.
  13. Special K'z

    Special K'z Well-Known Member

    I work on call at a local nursing home in activities. We also have a special dementia ward that I worked in activities for sometime before going back to teaching. I have just started back into clowning recently but have been there a couple of times in clown. I had one lady who knew me out of clown but when I came to the Loving Care Lane as a clown she just frowned at me shook her finger and said "You don't get me." I assumed she thought I was going to play a trick on her. She had a great sense of humor when she was younger and I'm sure she had experiences with people dressed as clowns who played tricks. I just kept my distance and was friendly. Usually I am well received. I have done balloon hats and sculptures and have had people keep them long before they are usable anymore. One guy who doesn't come to activities much loved a football hat I made him with his teams favorite colors. The nurses said he kept it forever. Most residents with dementia have done O.K. with me as a clown but I can see the heightened visual presence plus novelty of a clown could possibly be too much for some. I guess it is the same with all persons - know your audience and take each contact from where they are. If you want to ask me any personal questions just p.m. me. Good luck with your paper. You should make if available on the forum here when you finish. I'm sure it would be a good resource.
    Sara K.
  14. Pookie

    Pookie Well-Known Member

    My first real opportunity to clown was at a senior care facility. I clowned for about an hour and got very little response from the residents. I thought that I had bombed terribly.

    Afterwords, the activities coordinator asked if any of the residents would like to get a picture with me. I was stunned when almost everyone raised there hands. I took the time to talk with the residents while the pictures had been taken. I had also brought an extra wig and nose, and some of the residents got pictures with them on. It was a blast!!

    As I was getting my things together to leave the activities coordinator thanked me and informed me that in the time that she had been there, that was the first time that she had seen many of the residents smile or respond.
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  15. LuvLee

    LuvLee Well-Known Member

    I was employed as an Activities Director for some time and enjoyed the people so much.
    All nursing homes are not the same as the next and neither are the residence. The memory
    homes for Alzheimer's/dementia are lower key and need a softer touch. Clowns can be a scary thing for some, but for the most part, sweet, cute, and funny clowns are very welcomed and needed. Just remember your time spent with those folks is for them and not for us. Sometimes it can be frightening to the visitor, (clown) as well. Thank you for your interest in Homes for the Elderly, they are wonderful people and we all can learn from them,,,,,,,,,,,,some may have been professors, teachers, preachers, pilots and the
    experiences they have had is something to be shared, it's history.
    Some of my best performances has been in a Nursing Facility for the elderly.
    • Thanks Thanks x 2
  16. Zeeppo

    Zeeppo New Member

    My best advice is to contact you local community chest. There are also some united way chapters that have grants for such things.
  17. beckem

    beckem New Member

    I appreciate you for your such kindness and great work. I believe that a man who look after others never fail in their aim. You are such a nice and kind man. I like your working. I must say that its real life that you are passing.
  18. StuartPid

    StuartPid Administrator/Pickles' Lady in Waiting

    This is a pretty old thread does anyone know what became of this? Did she write the paper?
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  19. Harry the Ridiculous

    Harry the Ridiculous Professor of the Ridiculous

    What I do

    Funny you should mention that, I have just finished a paper on the do's and don'ts of Nursing Home, Rehab Facilities and Hospital Care Clowning.

    Did you know there is only one accredited course available? A "B.A. Degree" in Medical Clowning offered by the University of Haifa in Israel. Other wise it's all just a bunch of different ideas and individual rules from various Facilities on their visiting and entertaining policies. When you complete the various courses you are given a certificate of completion. When I am at my other Computer I will post the paper. I am presenting the paper along with a pilot training session at my Clown Alley tonight.

    In the 1970's I was employed at a Veteran's extended care facility attached to the Brooklyn N.Y. (Maintenance Dept.) Veterans Hospital where I started my Care Clowning, although it wasn't called that back then. On special occasions I would dress in clown and entertain the Residents with Magic, Balloon Animals and some Comic relief from their day to day stresses. When ever I did it, it worked. For those few minutes I was able to take the Residents minds off their troublea, discomforts and pain with some oddities and humor.

    I will never forget one particular instance - One of my friends worked as a Speech Therapist and had a Patient who hadn't spoken even one sylable in almost two years. Something, some how traumatized him into a state of silence. Knowing the impact my close-up magic had, the Therapist asked if I would do a one on one show just for him. I started off with one card trick and immediately after the blow off the Resident smiled and said "Damn". Granted, not much of a responce, but remember he hadn't talked for quite a long time. This amazed me more than any event in my Magic and Clowning carreer.

    Recently I was asked to volunteer my services as a Clown for an Ice Cream Social at a local Veterans Rehab and Nursing home given by some Viet Nam Veterans. The results were incredible The Organization had no idea the impact that a Clown had on the Residents and it wasn't just from Clowning, Magic or Balloons but just engaging the Residents in conversations other than "How are you feeling today" or the ever impersonal "Did you have a Bowel movement". I just asked simple questions like "What branch of the Military did you serve in, What kind of work did you do, where did you live, how many children do you have". The idea being to use topics that spark good memories, take their minds on little journies away from their aches and pains.

    Feel free to contact me via e mail harrythemagician@comcast.net

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