Acute Frailty Unit

Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton

What is the Acute Frailty Unit?

The Acute Frailty Unit (AFU) is an acute assessment unit focused on improving the patient experience and quality of care for our patients aged 65 years and older.
Patients receive rapid assessment and care designed to meet individual needs. As a multi-disciplinary team (MDT) we work collaboratively with the aim of discharging patients within 72 hours if possible.

What can I expect on the Acute Frailty Unit?

Patients receive a prompt and comprehensive frailty assessment in a professional and welcoming environment. Our staff will liaise with you and when appropriate, your family/carer to understand your medical history, wishes and how to best support individual needs. Having early conversations on what matters most to patients supports rapid treatment, discharge and ongoing recovery.
We treat everyone with respect and dignity and as care providers we expect to be treated accordingly.

What specialist care does the Acute Frailty Unit provide?

We specialise in frailty, dementia and delirium and assess, diagnose, treat, and care for our patients. We aim to improve the patient’s health sufficiently to enable discharge/transfer where possible on the same day or within 72 hours.


Frailty describes someone’s overall resilience and how this relates to their chances of recovering quickly following health problems. In practice being frail means a relatively minor health problem can have a severe long-term impact on a person’s health and wellbeing.

Dementia is a set of symptoms that over time can affect memory, problem-solving, language and behaviour. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia but there are other forms.

Delirium refers to confusion caused by a combination of physical and or environmental factors.
Who are the team looking after me?

The Acute Frailty Unit is led by our sister and junior sister working together with the medical doctors, nurses and health care assistants, joint emergency therapy team (JETT), pharmacy, social workers, discharge team, receptionists, ward assistants and activity coordinators. When appropriate, further care is provided from specialists including dietitians and speech and language therapists.

How will you keep me informed?

We will try to ensure you understand:

  • why you are in the AFU
  • what is going to happen
  • what is needed before discharge/transfer to another care setting
  • when you will leave the AFU.

How do my family and friends keep in contact?

The AFU will keep in contact with your:

  • Next of Kin (NoK) who can inform family, friends and carers of any updates. This enables us to maximise the time available to care for our patients
  • Family and friends can keep in direct contact with you, by phoning your mobile phone number. Alternatively, they can call the ‘speak to patient’ numbers overleaf. Facetime can be used if you know the mobile number to call using an iPad.

What happens at discharge?

Following assessment and once ready for discharge, it will be decided if:

  • you can return to your usual place of residence, with or without additional care and support;
  • you require transfer for further assessment/continuous care/rehabilitation to a ward/community hospital/nursing or care home.

When ready for discharge where possible a family member/carer/friend should collect you to help provide reassurance. British Red Cross may be able to provide transport in some instances. Hospital transport is only provided when there is a medical need. If you require on-going hospital care in a community hospital, transfer is usually by hospital transport.

After discharge it is better to continue your recovery outside of an acute hospital as it:

  • can improve and shorten recovery
  • reduces potential muscle wasting
  • lowers the risk of exposure to infection.

If your symptoms or condition worsens, or you have medical concerns after discharge, contact your GP, call NHS 111, or 999 in an emergency.

How can I give feedback?

We hope your experience on the AFU is a positive one and we welcome your comments. Please complete our questionnaire while on the unit to share constructive feedback which helps us to continually make improvements to our service.

If you are not satisfied with any aspect of care, speak to us in the first instance or contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) on 01823 343536 or email: pals@somersetft.nhs.uk.