Past project


Acute Day Units as Crisis Alternatives to Residential Care

Project overview

AD-CARE was a three-year 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 issues.

It was 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
  • An analysis of England-wide, routinely collected data on crisis care, including acute day unit use.

Project details

Provision of crisis support for people with mental health issues 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.

We lead on two areas of the study. The first was to ensure there was 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 supported the study’s peer researcher, recruited to work on the programme directly drawing on their expertise from experience as someone with mental health issues and academic training as a researcher.

The combined experiential and academic expertise of the peer researcher post was supported by a second peer researcher on a sessional basis through McPin.

This project started July 2016 and ended in June 2019. It 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.

For more information about the public involvement within this project, please email [email protected].

Project resources

Project report
Project report

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

A report on the AD-CARE project investigating the provision, effectiveness, intervention acceptability and re-admission rates of acute day units
Crisis • Mental health services • Research methods | 21st February 2023

Work with us

We are always excited to hear from others who want to collaborate on mental health research. From delivering peer research to helping you with public involvement strategies and providing training, get in touch to chat.