The CAMHeleon COLOURFUL Award for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Inpatient Services


All Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) wards that manage to have all COLOURFUL Themes in place, often by creatively adapting the basic ideas, are eligible for the COLOURFUL Award.

The CAMHeleon community adopts and adapts the COLOURFUL themes to validate their existing good practice and provide a catalyst for further development. A good place to begin your CAMHeleon journey is by reading about the Themes, then use the benchmarking sheet (download link below) to tick off those ideas which are already in place. This invariably provides a real uplift as staff see how much of the great practice they take for granted are listed in the ideas.

Being awarded the Award is a fantastic accomplishment, representing exceptional expertise, commitment and caring by CAMHS ward staff.

Service Evaluation

As the COLOURFUL Themes aren’t formal standards, we don’t carry out inspections; instead, we encourage self-evaluation and self-reflection and trust the wards to drive the process. Feel free to adapt the benchmarking sheet to suit your ward – or come up with your own like Ferndene Unit in Northumberland did (see their example below). The main thing is to introduce the Themes in a way that works for your ward’s young people and staff team. We ask for at least five examples of relevant practice, and associated explanations/comments, for each of the 9 COLOURFUL Themes – so, 45 examples in all.

Award Visits

We’re always happy to be contacted by wards who are working to implement all 9 Themes. Once you have successfully introduced the Themes, we’ll arrange to visit you and will be delighted to present the COLOURFUL Award.

Our COLOURFUL Award visits are very relaxed and informal – as the scheme is self-assessed we don’t have a set process for our visits, nor do we have any requirements as such – so it’s totally up to you what we do during our time together. Some staff like to talk us through their benchmarking sheets and any other materials they may have collated to document their journey. Other wards put on a party for patients and staff to celebrate their success.

Visits give us a chance to take a look around at the wonderful work you’ve been doing, and of course, give you your much deserved COLOURFUL Award trophy! We always welcome opportunities to learn about and celebrate best practice and we love to share inspirational stories with the COLOURFUL and Star Wards community.


C.O.L.O.U.R.F.U.L spells out the following themes:

What is CAMHeleon?
  1. Caring Relationships
  2. Opportunity and Expression
  3. Leisure and Therapeutic Activity
  4. On and off the Ward
  5. Understanding
  6. Relational and Physical safety
  7. Family and Friends
  8. Unique Recovery Journeys
  9. Learning and Growth

If you need help…

We’re offering NHS and private services the opportunity to book our direct support, including training days, workshops, project facilitation and coaching. We can help you wherever you are in your service improvement journey (click here for more information).

We offer reasonable rates and a bespoke service which aims to enhance the experience of patients, carers/family members and staff. We believe our offer will assist with some of the major challenges services face – to improve standards of safe care and to have less incidents of harm to staff and patients – leading to less staff absence, less complaints, reduced cost of investigation and legal action and reduced reputational damage. It will also help Bright and Star Wards to continue and thrive into the future.

We can take you on a Bright Journey fitted to your needs and built around your requirements. For more please information contact us.

Get Started

> Register to become a CAMHeleon member

> Read about the COLOURFUL Themes 

> Apply for the COLOURFUL Award


(This is an example benchmarking sheet which you can adapt. It was created by the fab team at Ferndene Unit, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust)