Colin Moncrieff – my experience of being a Clowndoctor at Robin House Hospice

Dr Cous Cous (Colin Moncrieff, above left) regularly visits Robin House – one of the CHAS hospices in Scotland. Here he tells us about his experience of being a Clowndoctor and the rewards he gets from visiting the children at Robin House.

“Working in Robin House is an experience that can be terribly engaging and incredibly moving and is one that I truly cherish. One never knows exactly what kind of experience you’re going to have on the days that we visit Robin or Rachel House but invariably they are very positive and wholly uplifting if also sometimes emotionally impactful.

When we meet children who are living with life-limiting conditions (conditions that we often don’t even know existed) and who may be going through unimaginable suffering and/or frequent unpleasant procedures it gives us a real sense of how strong the human spirit is and how tough and resilient these children are. This of course also makes us remember how fortunate we are to have a body that works well and to have a life of general comfort and ease within a lack of pain – things that many of these remarkable young humans have never had and may never know. The privilege to be able to share a small amount of time just engaging with them and hopefully maybe also discovering what makes them giggle is often truly humbling and moving.

Yet, far from being places of doom and gloom, CHAS hospices are places of light, love and very often laughter, as well as of course deep sadness and great pain at times too. When we do encounter the brutal-reality of the oftentimes inevitable end of life which some children and their families face, being there weekly which we often are, we do have to arm ourselves against becoming too emotionally involved. Not only for our own protection but also for the sake of those whom we work with, as we never know who we might meet just around the next corner who may themselves need some “laughter therapy” or some cheering up or some simple distraction in that moment. This emotional armour of course cannot shield us completely from feelings of sadness and helplessness and there is a fine balance to be struck between the emotions that we can show and those that we have to just keep inside.

Largely it’s the brilliance of the staff, as well as of course the gratitude and love from the kids & their families who use the service, that makes CHAS Hospices the remarkable and invaluable resources that they are. Long may they flourish!”

Colin Moncrieff (Dr Cous Cous)

Find out more about the work of the Clowndoctors in hospices and respite care units.