Addenbrooke's Charitable Trust

Beads of Courage for neonatal intensive care

Cambridge News feature

Beads of Courage for neonatal intensive care

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Rosie Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit is the first in the UK to implement a Beads of Courage scheme thanks to funding from Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust (ACT).


Beads of Courage have been used across the world for many years to help children with a serious illness commemorate milestones they have achieved during their treatment. Originally starting in the USA, the programme was brought to the UK four years ago and has been successfully implemented in hospitals across the country.


Using beads families create a visual, tactile record of their child’s treatment journey. Different coloured and shaped beads are strung on a cord and each have different meaning. For example a yellow bead is given for an overnight stay, a red bead is for a blood transfusion and a pink bead denotes they have received respiratory support.


The neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at the Rosie is specially designed and equipped to care for the sickest and most vulnerable babies. The unit treats around 600 babies every year taking referrals from all over the region and occasionally beyond.


On NICU parents are given a turtle-shaped bead when their baby is admitted along with beads which spell out their baby’s name and a length of string. They also have a choice of special bags to keep their beads in.


Beads are then given to the parents on a daily basis depending on what treatment their baby has received that day. Parents can thread the beads in any way they like, allowing them to focus on a project and take time out from the stressful environment. 


Jo Elliott from ACT said: “We are very pleased to support NICU’s Beads of Courage programme, which has shown to help families develop positive coping strategies and make sense of their experience.”


Every week ACT has a column in the Cambridge News' Monday health supplement. This article appeared on Monday 21 December 2015.

To read more see ACT's Cambridge News web channel.