(Acute Day Units as Crisis Alternatives to Residential Care)



What is this research?

AD-CARE is a 3 year research study funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), and led by researchers at University College London (UCL), to explore how acute day units – previously known as day hospitals – contribute to crisis care support for people with mental health problems. It is a national study with several elements including;

  • a survey to identify all acute day units in England,
  • a case study of acute day unit use in six areas using both quantitative assessment measures exploring outcomes over a 8-12 week period and qualitative interviews,
  • economic analysis of cost effectiveness, and;
  • an analysis of England-wide routinely collected data on crisis care including acute day unit use.


Why is this research important?

Our provision of crisis support for people with mental health problems is under continual review and we need to search for better models of care and route practices. This project is part of a programme of research exploring mental health crisis support.


How are McPin involved?

The McPin Foundation is leading on two areas of the study. The first is to ensure there is patient a public involvement throughout. We worked with two service users to shape the content of the proposal and formed a Lived Experience Advisory Panel (LEAP). Secondly, we are supporting the study’s peer researcher, recruited to work on the programme directly drawing on their expertise from experience as someone with mental health problems and academic training as a researcher. The combined experiential and academic expertise of the peer researcher post, is being supported by a second peer researcher on a sessional basis through McPin .


What did we find?

This project started July 2016 and ended in June 2019.

This study found that acute day units, although not routinely provided in the NHS, were highly valued by staff and service users, with some evidence of better outcomes.

You can read the full report here and download a copy here:

Acute day units in non-residential settings for people in mental health crisis: the AD-CARE mixed-methods study


Who do I contact for more information?

More information can be found on the main UCL study website by clicking here.


You can also email: for more information.