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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? 

Giggle Doctors have an agreement with our partner hospitals which tells them where they can visit in the hospital. One or two Giggle Doctors will usually visit weekly on an agreed day, although at some sites they visit more or less frequently. The Giggle Doctors can visit all paediatric wards, receiving information from the nurses and the play team about who they can see. 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.

My child is in hospital. How can I find out whether a Giggle Doctors might visit us?

Visit our ‘Where We Visit’ page to see if the hospital is one of our partners and to see which day of the week we are there. If we do visit the hospital, you can speak to a member of the play team to find out more about our partnership with the hospital. If the Giggle Doctors don’t visit the hospital, you can still receive a unique Giggle Doctor experience for your child 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.

Can I request a visit from a Giggle Doctor to see my child?

Unfortunately, we aren’t able to arrange individual Giggle Doctor visits for a particular child, but you can request a digital Giggle Doctor experience for your child at any time. 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.


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.

What have other parents said about the Giggle Doctors?

We regularly receive feedback from parents who complete our surveys after they have had a Giggle Doctor visit. Find out what parents have said about us here.

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.

Do the parents or other companions of the children participate in the visit of Giggle Doctors?

Giggle Doctors will often involve sibling and parents in their interactions but the child that is unwell will be their main focus. Including parents in the magic, games and humour can help to create a more relaxed atmosphere. 

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 your children, 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.


All of 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 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.

Dr Bungee