Elder Clowns - bringing laughter, joy and connection

Presenters: David Symons, Rebecca Carr and Jenny McGregor, Humour Foundation

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About the presentation

The Humour Foundation is best known for its Clown Doctor program in paediatric hospitals. However, it has also been providing Elder Clown programs (now called Laughter Care) to residential aged care facilities since 2013.  The program brings much needed laughter, joy and connection to people living with dementia and those experiencing social isolation. Elder Clown programs in Australia and overseas have been shown to reduce agitation levels and moderate to severe BPSD of residents living with dementia. They also have positive impact on facility staff. Elder Clowns use play, reminiscence, humour, music and ‘relational presence’ to achieve these outcomes.  In this presentation we will discuss the history, principles and impact of the program. You will also hear stories about the work directly from one of our expertly trained performers who deliver the program.

About the presenter

David Symons is Artistic Director of The Humour Foundation. He has worked in healthcare clowning since 1998. In 2012, he was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to investigate Elder Clowns programs in Scotland, the Netherlands, Canada and the USA.  He helped to establish a PhD study of the work of clown doctors at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, and a study of the impact of clown doctors on an adolescent mental health unit; and was a co-investigator of a study examining the impact of clown doctors supporting children undergoing medical assessment for suspected physical abuse or neglect.

Rebecca Carr is the National Programs Manager at The Humour Foundation and has a keen interest in improving the healthcare experience for children and older Australians. Her responsibilities include the strategy, measurement and evaluation of the Clown Doctor and Elder Clown programs delivered in paediatric hospitals and aged care facilities. Prior to her work in the NGO space, Rebecca’s career spanned 15 years in advertising, film and television.

Jenny McGregor is a clown, musician and spiritual teacher.  Having graduated Middlesex University in London, in Dance & Theatre Performance, she has worked for 9 years as a clown for The Humour Foundation.  Jenny is an accomplished musician and is currently studying with ACMM- Australian Centre for Meditation & Mindfulness- where she is learning how to combine these areas of art and holistic health for wellbeing

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Further information: [email protected]

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