Palliative care: Smile Therapy at a ward from which few return home…



For some time now, Dr. Klaun brings smiles and laughter even to places where there is actually little to smile about: palliative care wards, where patients know that there is little chance they´ll ever return home again.

Author: Martina Pupcsikova

Our Dr. Klaun and Dr. Dog teams are not afraid to go there – on the contrary, we quite look forward to it! Forward to the patients for who we are often all they have to distract themselves with. They wait a week or two for us to come back. They lie and look forward – to the few minutes we give them and during which we are there just for them. We are important to them and they are tremendously important to us as well. Their smile or laughter is precious, – because it´s proof that we can pull them out of their apathy. Even though their eyes are bleary, they have a hard time swallowing, can´t  get up because of tubes in their nose or in their abdomen – yet they shake our hand or lean over to pet our Dr. Dog! They are actually giving the reward to us – by allowing us to experience this with them! A momentary awakening from lethargy and despair, from dying … when their eyes light up again and a smile forms on their lips…

Palliative care is an emotional place. It’s a place where patients wish for one only thing – to be healthy again and to be allowed to go back home. They don’t need anything else here. It’s a place that brings us back down to earth, to what’s really important. The rich ones here are the ones who receive visitors – a family member or a friend.  And we are richly rewarded, just for our mere presence, for playing the ukulele, singing their favourite songs, reminiscing, joking, demonstrating how Dr. Dog can grab a spoon and pick up keys.

Which one of them will still be there when we come back again? Meeting “old friends” at palliative care is a giftto see them looking forward to seeing us, to see them smile the moment we enter the room.

Dr. Klaun has been visiting them and homes for elderly for several years now. We started visiting the palliative care unit in Kutná Hora this spring. The head nurse, Mrs. Hochman, was skeptical at first and was rather afraid of clowns in such a solemn place. She wanted us to send her pictures of similar visits in advance and then very cautiously requested the first test visit. After the visit, she was so excited that she even printed out photos to put them up on the bulletin board.

“The next week, Kutná Hora received hospital accreditation and the head nurse called us excitedly to tell us that the clown photos had caught the attention of the management and she even received an extra award for this special patient care,” Martina Pupcsikova recalls. The “Smile Therapy” test had obviously worked!

“Within a week we had also arranged a visit with our furry Dr. Dog, had the appropriate approvals and the first test visit. It turned out to be phenomenal! The patients were simply smitten by our furry friend. Some of them got up from their beds for a cuddle, some of them would love to take him on their bed,” Martina continues. “And sometimes when I watch our clowns interacting with the seniors, I have to go out into the hallway to hide my tears of joy.”

If this all make senses to you too, then please help us to keep sending our clown teams  and Dr. Dog to palliative care wards on a regular basis! Click here to help us to keep going! Follow “Dr. Klaun” on FB and on our website and see the impact of “your investment” via the reports and  pictures from our visits.

You will not regret it.

Thank you!