Skip to content

ACORNS: The Alex

Download and print as a PDF


What are the ACORNS?

The Children’s Nursing Team Service, or ACORNS, is a team of experienced Registered Children’s Nurses, called Outreach Nurses, who will provide assessment and support for your child during this acute period of illness while they are recovering at home. We also have a team of paediatricians who work alongside the ACORNS nurses providing advice and support when needed.

Following assessment and treatment at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital (the Alex), your child has now been referred to the ACORNS by one of the Children’s Doctors or Advanced Nurse Practitioners.

What happens before I leave the Children’s Emergency Department or the short stay ward at the Alex?

Before you go home you will be provided with:

  • An approximate time frame that you will be phoned at home by the ACORNS.
  • Any prescribed medicines that will be needed at home.
  • Information leaflet and advice about your child’s illness or problem.

How will the ACORNS monitor my child once we are at Home?

One of the ACORNS Nurses will phone you and check that your child is improving and that you feel confident monitoring and caring for them. This call may show as ‘Private Number’. It will then be followed up with either a further phone call or a video consultation. This decision will depend on the concerns of both the nurse and yourself.

For children living in the Brighton & Hove area, we are able to visit you and your child at home to assess them further if required, or depending on their diagnosis. For families living outside of this area we will continue to support you with telephone and video calls.

How can I help my child at home?

Please follow the verbal and written advice that you have been given.

This advice will help you look for signs that may indicate that your child’s illness is getting worse. It will also guide you with helpful things that you can do to speed up your child’s recovery, such as making sure they are drinking enough fluids, taking their prescribed medicines or inhalers, and resting at home with you.

What should I do if my child’s illness worsens or I am worried?

Please make contact with the ACORNS nurse if you are concerned about a possible deterioration in your child, such as but not only, if they seem worse to you, or become sleepy, floppy or develop a rash that doesn’t go away with pressure, or if they are finding it hard to breathe.

Please be aware that ACORNS do not provide an Emergency Service.

If you are concerned, please do not wait until the ACORNS nurse calls you.

  • In an emergency dial 999.
  • Call the ACORNS from 8am-8pm (8am-6pm on weekends and Bank Holidays).
  • After 8pm phone NHS 111.

The written information we gave you for your child’s illness or problem tells you what signs to look out for in your child that may indicate deterioration. If either you or the nurses have concerns about how your child is recovering, you may need to re-attend the Children’s Emergency Department where they will be reassessed. Please see ‘Useful Numbers’ overleaf.

How long will the ACORNS team be looking after my child?

Over the next 12-48hrs, the ACORNS will keep in contact with you at home by either phone or video. Once your child is getting better, they will be discharged from ACORNS into the care of their GP. Following discharge, any further health advice, assessments, or care should be sought from your health visitor, GP, NHS 111 or in an emergency, your nearest Emergency Department.

What else can I do for my child at home?

The following may help your child feel more comfortable.

  • Keep the room airy without being draughty.
  • Ensure they have plenty to drink. For the first day or so don’t worry about not wanting to eat. Try tempting them with tasty bits of food and encouraging them to have nutritious drinks like milk.
  • Try to give your child time for quiet games, stories, company and comfort. Unwell children get very tired and need plenty of rest.
  • Encourage your child to doze off when they need to, perhaps with a story read by you, audiobook or CD.

Coronavirus in Children

Children can get coronavirus (COVID-19), but they seem to get it less often than adults and it’s usually less serious.

The main symptoms of coronavirus.

  • A high temperature.
  • A new, continuous cough. This means coughing a lot, for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours.
  • A loss or change to sense of smell or taste. This means they cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal.

Get advice from NHS 111 if you’re worried about your child or not sure what to do. For children aged 5 years or over use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service. For children under 5 years, call 111.

Useful numbers

Practice Plus
(Brighton walk-in centre and GP service)

Telephone: 0300 130 3333

Open 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week including bank holidays.

For Out of Hours GP Service ring:

NHS 111 or look online at

Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital
ACORNS: based at the Children’s Emergency Department at ‘the Alex’

Telephone: 01273 696955 extension 62430.

Monday to Friday: 8am to 8pm

Weekends: 8am to 6pm

Bank Holidays: 8am to 6pm

In cases of emergency dial 999 for an ambulance.


This leaflet is intended for patients receiving care in Brighton & Hove or Haywards Heath.

The information in this leaflet is for guidance purposes only and is in no way intended to replace professional clinical advice by a qualified practitioner.

Publication Date: April 2021

Review Date: January 2024

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This