UMCPP's Acute Care of the Elderly (ACE) Unit

Acute Care of the Elderly. We’re ACEs.

University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro is proud to be among a select number of hospitals nationwide with a 24-bed Acute Care of the Elderly (ACE) unit. In fact, we were one of the first hospitals in New Jersey to offer this nursing unit specifically designed to meet the complex needs of the older adult population.

The ACE Unit is recommended for:

  • Adults over the age of 65.
  • Acutely ill patients.
  • Patients who have experienced a fall.
  • Patients who have had multiple hospital admissions over the past six months.
  • Seniors who are frail upon admission.

Research has shown that older adults who are admitted to a hospital have a much higher risk of hospital-related health issues such as falls, pressure ulcers, incontinence, delirium, and malnutrition. Studies have shown that ACE units reduce the average length of a hospital stay, better preserve a patient’s ability to function normally and increase patient and staff satisfaction. The unit’s goal is to help patients recover from their illness or injury, to help them maintain their strength and mobility, and to avoid additional health problems during their hospital stay.

Our ACE unit is led by a board certified geriatrician, and the nurses on the unit have undergone their profession’s most prestigious geriatric training program (called Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders, or NICHE). Together they take an interdisciplinary approach to care, making rounds with pharmacists, nutritionists, therapists and social workers who each have expertise in caring for seniors. Additional consultative services from occupational therapists, wound therapists, and speech-language and swallow pathologists are available when medically necessary.

Family friendly. Patient friendly.

On the 24-room ACE unit, each single room is designed with seniors in mind. Patients enjoy special beds that are low-set to help prevent falls with pressure-relieving mattresses to minimize the risk of developing pressure ulcers and to add extra comfort. The beds also feature built-in scales so patients can be weighed in place and the risk of falls is reduced. The rooms are also equipped with geriatric-friendly bedside recliners. Wall surfaces and door frames are highlighted with contrasting colors to enhance depth perception in the older adult. Signs and display boards have larger than normal type. Then, to promote faster healing, we provide rehabilitation – occupational and physical – right in the room.

We also believe in a family-centered approach to healing:

  • A sleeper sofa in each room encourages loved ones to stay overnight.
  • A Family Respite area offers an inviting, open atmosphere for social activities and group dining.
  • At least once a week, we offer art therapy, pet therapy or music therapy – we even bring in a strolling harpist!

With you all the way.

Our primary goal is to help our elderly patients get back to their way of life as soon as possible – preferably in their home setting. But we understand that additional care may be required. So when necessary, patients are assigned a case manager to help them navigate the next steps in their care – from outpatient rehab to home care services.