Beads a symbol of pride and courage for our most vulnerable little patients

(Southern Health News, September 2019)

Beads a symbol of pride and courage for our most vulnerable little patients

One bead at a time, the babies in Flinders Medical Centre’s Neonatal Unit are reaching important personal milestones.

The simple act of threading beads onto a necklace speaks volumes for the mums and dads in Flinders Medical Centre’s neonatal unit.

Because, for every bead they thread, it means their baby has reached a new milestone in their neonatal journey.

Baby’s first cuddle, baby’s first intubation, a significant weight gain….they are all symbolised with a single, exquisite bead.

The Stella Bella Bead project – introduced into the FMC Neonatal Unit by Associate Nurse Unit Manager Sara Jones – is a way parents can celebrate their babies’ milestones, and bond with other parents at the same time.

The project was introduced by Sara in response to feedback she had received as the Unit’s Family Integrated Care representative that parents often felt isolated in their neonatal journey.

‘Having a premature or sick baby can be extremely stressful for parents, and can be a period of grief. The Stella Bella Bead project offers an opportunity for parents to gain crucial support from other parents going through similar experiences. As they thread their beads - and cry, laugh and celebrate their baby’s milestones together – they also bond and share their stories.’

‘In talking to other parents they know that they are not alone and that others are experiencing those same feelings.’

Nikki Gould, the Nurse Unit Manager of the Neonatal Unit, said since the introduction of the project, staff had noted increased camaraderie between parents and a decrease in the level of stress and anxiety in the unit.

‘Parents recognise the beads as they pass each other at the cots in the Neonatal Unit and it becomes easy recognition of the day that some parents and their babies are having. They often stop and chat and offer support and encouragement.’

The result of the program is a much treasured string of beads which is a beautiful representation of each baby’s individual story and a symbol of pride and courage for all the challenges they have overcome.

‘Parents not only help support each other, but the bead threading time offers a more relaxed opportunity for parents to ask staff questions regarding their baby’s care and the next steps in their journey.’ Nikki Gould.

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