A stay in hospital, whether overnight or long term, can be scary and upsetting for children away from loved ones. Some children will visit the hospital as outpatients for treatments such as dialysis or day surgery procedures. Others, such as those with illnesses like cancer or leukaemia, can spend weeks or even months in hospital. The clinical and often serious nature of the environment can cause a great deal of anxiety and bewilderment. In addition, a hospital stay means they are removed from their families, friends and school, sometimes for significant periods of time, meaning that they miss out on opportunities for play and social interaction.
The Giggle Doctor programme improves children’s experience of hospital, reduces stress and anxiety, increases opportunities for play and improves wellbeing. It is not always about laughter, sometimes the focus of a visit might be on music, magic or storytelling. At other times a few bubbles is what is needed or perhaps just a balloon at the foot of the bed. Regardless, the Giggle Doctors will visit every child who wants to be visited.