Beads of Courage® Project
The Beads of Courage programme was introduced in 2003 in Arizona by a clinical nurse specialist Jan Barusch. Since then it has spread to over 60 children’s hospitals in USA, Canada, UK, Australia and Japan. Childhood Cancer Foundation has secured the sub license to bring the Beads of Courage programme to Ireland. Based on the testimonials of parents and children in other countries who have engaged in the Beads of Courage programme we feel that this is a worthwhile programme to bring to OLCHC. We have the full support of the haematology oncology team who can agree with the psychosocial benefits this programme will offer to children dealing with cancer. After over a year of discussion with hospital management and legal advisers the programme was rolled out at the end of 2015. This programme is working well within the hospital and we have received significant positive feedback from children and families.
The Beads of Courage Program is a resilience-based intervention designed to support and strengthen children and families coping with serious illness. Through the program children tell their story using colourful beads as meaningful symbols of courage that commemorate milestones they have achieved along their unique treatment path.
Upon enrollment each child is given the Beads of Courage bead colour guide with a detachable membership card. Their Beads of Courage journey begins when each child is first given a length of string and beads that spell out their first name. Then, colourful beads, each representing a different treatment milestone are given to the child by their professional health care provider to add to their Beads of Courage collection throughout their treatment as determined by the Beads of Courage Bead Guide.
All Program bead guides were developed in collaboration with experts in the field (nurses, doctors, child life specialists and social workers) so that each bead guide would reflect meaningful acknowledgment of a child's treatment journey.
Ongoing evaluation of the Beads of Courage program indicates that the program helps to decrease illness-related distress, increase the use of positive coping strategies, helps children find meaning in illness, and restore sense of self in children coping with serious illness. The program also provides something tangible the child can use to tell about their experience during treatment and after.