Our pioneering Acorn Rehabilitation Unit (AcRU) is officially a year old. And it has been recognised nationally for its outstanding results in getting frail and elderly patients back home and on their feet.

The unit provides specialist care for up to 14 days for people who need extra support and rehabilitation after leaving hospital. It was created when Mount Vernon Hospital closed and two intermediate care wards were transferred to Barnsley Hospital. Mount Vernon was regarded fondly by many people in Barnsley and some doubted if the new ‘therapy-led’ care arrangements would be as effective.

The AcRU’s care has in fact proved so effective that the Barnsley health partners working behind it were recognised nationally last month, by being shortlisted in the prestigious Health Service Journal (HSJ) awards. The care alliance which runs the unit was entered in the category of Community or Primary Care Services Redesign – North Midlands/East. The award it was nominated for was ‘Transforming Intermediate Care by Alliance Working.’

Up to the end of October, there were 320 plus patients that have utilised the service, which has 43 staff.  Eighty-two per cent of patients showed an improvement in their Derby outcome measures which is a measurement of independence and function and there were 88% ‘green days’ where there was value adding interventions and care.

Eighty-nine per cent of patients were up and dressed as part of measures to stop so-called PJ paralysis (changing into different clothes at the start of each day is proven to help aid    recovery, maintain a normal routine, and help patients return home sooner). Further analysis at AcRU showed delays in patients waiting for an intermediate care bed had more than halved.

AcRU unit lead Nicola Moug said:

“We opened a year ago although the name Acorn Rehabilitation Unit was chosen later on. After Mount Vernon closed, the new model of care was a therapy-led model which includes the 24-bed Acorn Rehabiliation  unit as part of the wider intermediate care pathway.  The idea of our unit is that patients stay up to two weeks and have the relevant assessments and rehabilitation as appropriate.

“We are working in a care alliance with Barnsley Clinical Commissioning Group, South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, the GP Federation and Barnsley Council. Partnership working like this was a massive step but now we have made stronger relationships with our community partners. Everyone is working together to provide a person-centred service in the the right place, at the right time, and this is continuing to grow and develop.”

Some of the patients who have utilised the service suffer from social isolation and much of the work is around interaction and engagement. Patients go to the dining room for their  breakfast and lunch and there are exercise and education sessions as well as activities like bingo and dominoes. Nicola added:

“We try to encourage normal routines and make life as near as possible to what they do at home.

“In many cases, the extra support given in the Acorn Rehabilitation Unit avoids the patient being re-admitted. The care bridges the gap between patients leaving hospital and independent living at home or an alternate care environment. We are trying to ensure that care is delivered as conveniently as possible for patients and wraps around them, their carers and families.”