Acute Care for Elders

New Patient Appointment or 214-645-8300

UT Southwestern Medical Center’s Acute Care for Elders (ACE) Unit brings together the expertise of specialists in every aspect of geriatric care to help older adults preserve and reclaim their function and independence after hospitalization. UT Southwestern has the only ACE Unit in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

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Nationally Ranked in Geriatrics

UT Southwestern Medical Center is recognized by U.S. News & World Report for 2020-21 as one of the nation's top hospitals for geriatric care.

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Specialized Care for Maximum Recovery

The Acute Care for Elders (ACE) Unit is a specialty unit at William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital that is devoted to the care of hospitalized older adults.

Patients in the ACE Unit are cared for by specialists who have training and experience in recognizing and preventing complications that often occur in hospitalized geriatric patients. 

The ACE Unit uses evidence-based interventions to provide care that optimizes each patient’s recovery and preserves each person’s dignity.

Preventing Common Complications

Older adults who are hospitalized have unique and sometimes complex needs. They face an increased incidence of overall mortality, as well as complications such as:

  • Cognitive decline
  • Delirium
  • Functional decline
  • Pressure ulcers 

ACE Units have been developed at medical centers across the country to specifically address these issues and to reduce the stress on older hospitalized patients and their families.

  • Research shows that patients who are cared for in an ACE Unit have improved outcomes, including:   
  • Better functional and cognitive results
  • Fewer hospital-acquired complications
  • Reduced health care costs
  • Shorter hospital stays

Patients in an ACE unit are also less likely to move to a nursing home following their hospitalization. 

Treatment

In addition to treating the current health situation, ACE interventions often include:

  • Medication review
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Planning for care after discharge
  • Physical therapy, walking, and other exercise
  • Sleep hygiene
  • Socialization 

The ACE Unit includes experts from a range of disciplines, including:

  • Physicians
  • Pharmacists
  • Registered nurses
  • Patient care technicians
  • Social workers
  • Physical therapists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Dietitians

The UT Southwestern ACE Unit holds the NICHE (Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders) designation, the only international designation that indicates a hospital's commitment to elder care excellence.

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Innovators in Aging Award

Our Geriatric Task Force won the 2018 Innovators in Aging award from Texas Health and Human Services, which honors those who have made positive impacts on the lives of older adults in Texas. Pictured, from left: Michelle Roberson, MSN, RN-BC, NE-BC, CMSRN; Candace Sutton, PharmD, BCPS; Rachel Herbeck, PT, DPT, GCS; Stefanie Crain, BSN, RN.

Volunteer Services

An important aspect of care in the ACE Unit is providing an environment that decreases stress. Volunteer services at UT Southwestern offer a range of supportive social services to patients on the ACE Unit, such as:

  • Pet therapy: Paws Across Texas is a pet therapy program designed to provide emotional support, stress relief, companionship, and sociability. Often, the pet can provide patients with encouragement to participate in functional activities.
  • Music therapy: Musicians on Call is a national program that brings live, in-room performances to the bedside.
  • Cognitive stimulation: Volunteers are trained to provide sympathetic support, encouragement, and companionship to patients and their families as well as encourage patients to keep active during their inpatient stay.

Related Conditions and Treatments

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Become a Volunteer

Contact UT Southwestern’s Volunteer Services Department at 214-633-4081 to find out more about us and obtain an application packet.

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