• acute admission units;
  • nursing care;
  • service user involvement

Accessible summary

  • • 
    Although not as historically dominant as it once was, acute admission units remain a place of care for people experiencing an acute mental illness and who cannot be cared for in a community setting.
  • • 
    In line with global developments, Irish mental healthcare policy has focused on greater levels of collaboration between service providers and users.
  • • 
    In admission unit care enhanced levels of service user involvement happens though nurses involving them in care planning and through interacting with them on a regular basis.


Mental health care in Ireland has been in the midst of a modernization of services since the mid 1980s. Embellished in this change agenda has been the need for better care and services with a particular emphasis on greater levels of user involvement. Acute admission units provide a setting for mental health care to be delivered to people who are unable to be cared for in a community setting. Through discussion of findings from semi-structured telephone interviews with 18 acute admission unit staff nurses, the aim of this paper is to explore the level of involvement service users have in acute unit care in Ireland. Reporting on one qualitative component of a larger mixed method study, findings will show that acute admission unit staff nurses generally involve service users in their care by facilitating their involvement in the nursing process, interacting with them regularly and using different communication approaches. However, participants identified barriers to service user involvement, such as growing administrative duties. It can tentatively be claimed that, within an Irish context, acute admission unit service users are involved in their care and are communicated with in an open and transparent way.