The recent release of the Royal Commission in to Aged-Care Quality & Safety findings, hot on the heels of a year that has constantly reminded us of the need to look after the most vulnerable in society, has also had us talking a lot about our best kept secret – the Elder Clowns program.

For over 10 years, The Humour Foundation has been working in aged-care facilities using humour, empathy and play to connect with residents, many of whom are struggling to adjust to life away from their own home and are often living with dementia.

The program receives no government funding and operates on a fee for service model to enable us to cover the cost of having highly trained performers regularly visit private aged care facilities. However, the past year has shown us that it’s the facilities that can least afford to pay for the Elder Clowns program, that really need us the most.

Going forward you will hear more about this program, as we grow financial support to ensure this program is available in not-for-profit facilities across the country. To start with, our focus will be on increasing presence in NSW and Victoria where we already operate and expanding into WA and QLD where there is an identified need.

Since the release of the Royal Commission findings, and as a result of lock-down due to Covid-19, we have already seen an increase in enquiries from residential aged care facilities wanting to find appropriate services that will help them improve the lives of their residents. Now, our challenge is keeping up with demand. While our plans are to grow, we need appropriately trained performers for this very special work, in specific locations to meet demand.

To learn more about the benefits of humour, specifically for people living with dementia, you might like to read the SMILE study conducted back in 2012. Whilst quite technical, it demonstrates that there is clearly a place for such evidence-based programs within dementia care, to help reduce agitation and the need for medication in a significant portion of the trial participants.

Please let us know if you are interested in this part of our work, so that we can keep you informed. And if you have the time, take a moment to read the SMILE study, which you can access here.