PUTTING THE CLOWN IN CARE CENTRE VISITS
Written by Karen Baxter – Education Co-ordinator, Edmonton Caring Clowns
Doofus D. Dawg, my favorite canine encouraged me to share this piece with potential caring clowns who might be on the cusp of visiting Care facilities. Me thinks it’s because he features in this article! But I prefer to believe he is addicted to the twinkle of an aging eye, and the crease of a well worn smile when he visits elders!
Doofus of the stuffed variety canines, accompanies me on my visits to Capital Care Strathcona. We are caring clowns whose aim is to use play and laughter as a therapeutic means of relieving stress and anxiety for the residents, family members, and staff. We use a gentle noninvasive approach, suggesting, ‘FUN not run!’ It helps that Doofus can’t bark!
PET THERAPY can be an important component of your visit. Residents love animals. However, you must seek approval from the powers that be to bring the ‘live’ variety. I have a special kinship with animals myself, as I was once the teacher’s pet because she couldn’t afford a dog! And speaking of dogs, that takes me back to Doofus. He’s the most lovable stuffed hound you can imagine! He sports a variety of watches, as he fancies himself to be my ‘watch’ dog. Translated he has a lot of ‘time’ on his paws! Occasionally, he gets ticked off because residents try and feel him but he’s always stuffed! If he wasn’t he would be partial to chicken poodle soup! I tried bringing his brother, Weiner Dog (a real hot dog if I ever saw one) along with us once, but he has never comes when called. Perhaps it has to do with the fact he has no legs!
Doofus is a one trick dog. He can sit. Actually he knows how to roll over and play dead, but I don’t like to encourage that behaviour at the Care Centre! I often call Doofus my ‘wonder’ dog, because I wonder if he’s ever going to bark! The truth is I haven’t had much luck with dogs. The first dog I took to the Care Centre, I accidentally left in the barking lot! Dog gone! Anyway, Doofus and I try to create magical moments for the residents. We cannot always identify the key that unlocks the ‘moment.’ It could be a hug, a silly word play, a song, a greeting, a smile, or just listening. It is enough to know when we beckon with kindness, hearts open with possibility, enabling us to make a connection. So treat yourself to Care Centre clowning, the rewards are immeasurable! In the meantime, gotta run! Doofus is off to the dog races. He lives to hear the announcer yell, “Up, PUP, and away,” it invigorates him!
I have been visiting Care facilities for the past ten years as Rootin’ Tootin’ Newton.
(posted by N)