Making patients laugh in times of COVID-19 is not simple, but relatives and staff in hospitals agree: good humour is needed now, more than ever.
Didier Van der Perre is a professional healthcare clown with Cliniclowns in Belgium. Many European hospitals are not allowing such artists to enter right now, but Didier found a way to keep performing.
It’s great to be able to connect through the computer, but there is something missing," says Didier. He looks forward to the day when they can do their performances in person.
There are more than forty different organisations of this nature across Europe. A survey conducted by the European Federation of Healthcare Clowns Organisations (EFHCO), found that most artists have established new ways to keep working during confinement. Some went online, others also performed in windows, balconies and courtyards. They even used hydraulic lifts to reach patients on the upper floors. But fundraising events to support such work has been hit.
"The majority of the health clowns organizations expect a lower revenue for the next year," says Silvia De Faveri of Red Noses Clowndoctors International.
"It has been a little bit challenging but we have also seen a lot of support from the public. That also shows that the people really understand the positive impact that the professional healthcare clowns have on the wellbeing of the patients," she added.
These clowns are professionals. They receive training from doctors, psychologists and experienced colleagues who are approved by EFHCO. And it’s a service that is generally appreciated by both staff and patients.
While Didier waits to get back in hospitals, he continues his show. On a serious mission, during this pandemic, to make people laugh.