The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, who fund British citizens to investigate inspiring practice in other countries and return with innovative ideas for the benefit of people across the UK, have funded me! Double Otimo!
Over the coming year, I will visit Healthcare Clown organisations in Barcelona, Buenos Aires and Lisbon to investigate best practises in the integration of Hospital Clowns into Healthcare units.
I applied to the fund partly out of frustration that even after over 15 years of sending professional clowns into hospitals across Scotland, Hearts and Minds still come across healthcare staff, families, and people in general who have never heard of this profession, and who often immediately equate what we do with scary, wig-wearing, sweaty, melty-make-uped clowns blundering about making children cry.
And that isn't what we do! No, no, no!
With this award, I want to increase awareness and understanding of what we do, and how we do it, amongst the healthcare community, and the general public.
Professional Healthcare Clown organisations in Portugal, Spain and South America seem to be widely respected and supported, and the work that they do well understood. So I want to know what are they doing differently. Is this purely cultural? What can we learn from them? Is it just that we should all be eating more Pasteis de Nata?
I will investigate the role that academic research plays in improving perceptions of hospital clowning within the healthcare community. While eating Pasteis de Nata (just in case).
I will look at how clowning can be used in different healthcare settings, such as surgery, to understand whether there are benefits for all stakeholders in assigning clowns roles that require more trust and responsibility. Or are the benefits purely Pastel de Nata based?
I will examine successful and well established communication strategies to see whether UK organisations could learn something from their approach.
I will stop undermining my attempts at talking seriously about a profession I feel passionately about with constant references to Portuguese pastry goods.
At the meeting in Lisbon, i will be mostly meeting with academics who are researching the benefits of Healthcare Clowning, but also making arrangements for my visits to organisations later in the year and, I imagine, having a lot of fun meeting inspiring, skilled and hilarious healthcare clowns from all over the world. Triple Otimo!