Small JOY is a BIG issue!

Finnish Hospital Clowns Association employs and trains hospital clowns who do their rounds in the pediatric wards delighting young patients and their families. At the moment the Hospital Clowns visit the pediatric clinics of Helsinki, Turku, Tampere, Kuopio and Oulu Hospitals.

Why are the Clown doctors needed?

The daily life of children staying in hospitals can become very boring and even distressed and painful. The Clown doctors help the children to forget their illness for a while. They give the children the authority to be in a good mood, the right to laugh and be funny in the midst of the everyday life of the hospital.

Who gets the benefit?

In addition to sick children of all ages, even the life of their sisters and brothers, parents and the hospital personnel (in 2012 statistically speaking more than 46,000 people) are cheered up by clowns. We have learnt this through the enthusiastic and positive feedback we have received.

Who are the people behind the clowns?

Sairaalaklovnit ry trains clown doctors who are originally professional artists with backgrounds in different areas of art and performance. In addition to the basic education as clown doctors, the artists have regular training sessions where they can improve their competence, get new ideas and have the possibility to discuss and be assisted in difficult experiences and situations in their work at the hospitals. During summertime a three day seminar is arranged with focus on improvisation, learning of new songs and tricks.

… and where do they work?

Two clown doctors do the rounds on wards that have been selected together with the hospital management. The doctors work in pairs and visit the patients in their rooms provided that the child gives them permission to enter the room.

… and on which wards do they work?

The clown doctors visit policlinics as well as wards in Kidney and transplantation, Paediatric surgery and urology, Orthopaedic and traumatology, Cancer and haematology, Cardiac care, Paediatric diseases and Infectious diseases.

… and what do they do?

The healing methods of the clown doctors are improvisation, general fussing about, singing, music and magical tricks. The basic idea is that there are always two fools (the doctors) and a smart  one (the child) in the patient room.

The importance of being organized

In order to secure a continuity of the operations registered association called Sairaalaklovnit ry / Sjukhusclowner rf was founded 2001 by Lilli Sukula-Lindblom, Tom Lindblom and Ilkka Viippola.

Artistic director is responsible for the employees and practical arrangements. Executive director Aino Viertola is responsible for the funding and ongoing operations. The association employs 40 specially trained artists.

Sairaalaklovnit ry trains new Clown doctors every other year. The most recent training took place in Turku this year (2016).

Extending the operations

Officially the activities started in January 2002 in Helsinki at the University hospital for children and youth, at present four days a week. Since the start the program has been extended to the University hospitals in the major Finnish towns of Turku, Tampere, Oulu and Kuopio with one or two days a week respectively, making a total of ten days a week all year round. Extending the operations is entirely dependent on finding new sponsors.

Financing of the operation

The main financer since 2002 has been RAY (Finland’s Slot Machine Association). We get donations and subsidies from organizations and companies. Individual people can support us by applying for membership.

Are the hospitals financially involved?

Sairaalaklovnit ry arranges for the financing of the operation and thus the service is free of charge for the hospitals. The association agrees upon schedules and other organizational details together with the hospital management on a yearly basis. The artists working for the association sign an employment contract, they are duly insured and professional secrecy prevents them from disclosing any patient information. The artists know the rules concerning hygiene and are acquainted with special regulations within the hospital environment. These measures insure that the clown activity is safe and secure from the hospital point of view.

Clown doctors – background

The first organized Hospital clown operation was founded in New York 1986. The activities took place 3–5 days a week, 50 weeks per year. The founding father was circus artist Michael Christensen from BIG APPLE CIRCUS in New York. The non-profit association was named Clown Care Unit® (CCU). Today, the operation is run by close to a hundred artists in several hospitals all over the United States. Since the beginning the idea has spread into many countries around the world. The Hospital Clowns in Finland Association works as an independent group but still in close co-operation with the New York unit.

How the clowns entered Finland

In the autumn of 2000 Lilli Sukula-Lindblom, Master of Arts, studied the hospital clown operations as a Fulbright scholar within the CCU. The goal was to learn the practical work in the hospitals and how to set up and organize operations in Finland in a professional manner.

For your information

Sairaalaklovnit ry / Sjukhusclowner rf has been giving several lectures on Hospital clown operations all around Finland as well as abroad. Running a Hospital clown operation that functions regularly all year round is “serious business”. It should therefore be well organized from the very beginning. It is important to build up an organization that reflects creditability and continuity. These goals can be reached by training the right people to the operative tasks and finding sound sponsors that are committed to a long term co-operation.

Please feel free to contact our association!

General Manager Aino Viertola +358 40 534 7079

Address: Kaasutehtaankatu 1, rakennus 8 00540 Helsinki, Finland




    - tukijat