What does Theodora Children’s Charity do?
The Theodora Children’s Charity sends specially trained performers called Giggle Doctors into hospitals, hospices and specialist care centres in the UK. The Giggle Doctors bring moments of joy and laughter to brave children at challenging times by combining play, storytelling, music and magic.
How long have Theodora Children’s Charity been running in England?
We have been visiting hospitals across England since 1994. During these 26 years, a team of 33 Giggle Doctors have visited 21 hospitals, 3 hospices and 2 specialist care centres. The charity was started in Switzerland and there are also Giggle Doctor programmes in Spain, Italy, Hong Kong, Turkey
How does a visit from a Giggle Doctor work?
Each of our 26 clinical partners receives a schedule of Giggle Doctor visits. One or two Giggle Doctors will usually visit weekly on an agreed day, although at some sites we visit more or less frequently. The Giggle Doctors visit all paediatric wards, receiving information from the nurses and the play team about who they can visit. Giggle Doctors will usually spend around 10-15 minutes with each child and they will improvise their interactions to suit the child’s needs. This approach means that each interaction is unique and helps to put smiles back on the faces of children and their loved ones.
Can I arrange a one-off Giggle Doctor visit for my hospital?
Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to book a one-off Giggle Doctor visit. Our partnerships with hospitals are long-term and include a regular pattern of visits. Often, Giggle Doctors are required to have particular contracts and paperwork from the hospital to allow them to work autonomously on the ward. However, all clinical settings can access our Digital Giggle Doctors programme, which allows children to receive a unique Giggle Doctor experience digitally. Click here to find out about our Giggle Doctor Virtual Visits and Giggle-a-Gram messages, which are free and available to all children in clinical settings in the UK or receiving treatment at home.
I’d like for Giggle Doctors to start visiting my hospital. What do I need to do?
We are always open to conversations with new hospitals about setting up a Giggle Doctor partnership. Please contact the Giggle Doctor Programme Manager on [email protected] to set up an introductory meeting. Please note that we have to ensure that funds are sourced to cover the costs of all of our hospital partner programmes.
How are you running your Giggle Doctor Services during Covid-19?
Since March 2020, our Giggle Doctor visits have been suspended and we have moved our services online. You can check out our YouTube channel for lots of entertaining Giggle Doctor videos to show children at your hospital, book a Virtual Visit using WhatsApp video call or request a Giggle-a-Gram, a personalised video message for your child on a hidden YouTube link. Find out more here.
Are Giggle Doctors Real Doctors?
No, Giggle Doctors aren’t real doctors or medically trained. They come from a wide range of backgrounds and amongst the team we have actors, magicians, clowns, puppeteers. They are trained by Theodora Children’s Charity over two years to prepare them for working in the hospital environment.
Are Giggle Doctors volunteers?
Giggle Doctors are not volunteers; they are self-employed artists and some have their own registered companies. Giggle Doctors are high-quality, committed and professional artists and are paid for their work with the charity.
How are the Giggle Doctors trained?
it takes two full years to become a Giggle Doctor and our rigorous training programme takes a huge commitment from the recruits. They are trained in infection control, safeguarding, and how to improvise artistic interactions in the hospital environment. They are also trained in hard artistic skills such as balloons, origami and magic. Trainee Giggle Doctors also spend at least 12 days on the ward assisting a Senior Giggle Doctor to help them to develop their practice, style and character.
How do Giggle Doctors work with Play Specialists and Clinical staff?
Giggle Doctors will usually sign in with the play team on arrival at the hospital, who may brief them on particular children and the route that they should follow on that day. On each ward, the Giggle Doctors will check in with the nurses on the desk for further information about the children, so that they can agree the best order of visits to accommodate infection control and medical care that the children are receiving. Giggle Doctors don’t visit children who are currently with a doctor or nurse and will come back later if possible, ensuring that the medical care always takes priority.
CHILD PROTECTION ABOVE EVERYTHING
All our Giggle Doctors have an enhanced DBS check. They always get permission from the children before approaching them. Nurses also inform us whether or not to visit a particular child. Our service is one of the few things in hospital children can have a say in. To view a copy of our safeguarding policy please click here.
How can I get in touch with The Theodora Children’s Charity?
Get in touch by emailing [email protected] or by calling our switchboard on 02077130044. To find out more about our Giggle Doctors and the hospital programme, select the option for ‘Programme Manager’ and to find out more about our fundraising, select the option for the Fundraising Team.