Red bags to help care home residents leave hospital sooner

A new innovative ‘red bag’ scheme launches on 1 August 2019 by Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) which is designed to help care home residents in Salisbury who are admitted to hospital, to receive improved care and reduce their length of stay in hospital.

Gill May, Executive Director of Nursing and Quality for Banes, Swindon and Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Groups said:
“The red bag is a simple initiative that enables a smooth handover from the care home to the ambulance and then to the hospital staff because all of the patient’s information and personal belongings are together in the red bag.

“It helps those who provide care at all stages of the patient’s journey to have immediate access to the information they need, and it will help patients to get home more quickly because the risk of misplacing their belongings is reduced.”

Lisa Wood, Paramedic from South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust said:
“Because the patient has all of their medical information easily accessible there in the bag, it will help our paramedics to triage the patients and make the right decisions for them more quickly before handing them over to the care of the hospital staff.”

Included in the red bag is a ‘this is me’ document, which provides information about the patient’s needs, interests, likes and dislikes, which helps those caring for them to do so on a more personal level.

While in hospital a patient will see different clinicians in different parts of the hospital. Their red bag stays with them throughout this journey meaning that those caring for them have immediate access to their up to date medical information and medication and the patient keeps their personal items with them.

The red bag stays with the patient until they are ready to go back to their care home and includes a copy of their discharge summary to help the care home staff to provide continuity of care for their resident.

Wiltshire CCG intends to provide red bags to care homes in the rest of the county by the end of this year.

Red bags were first introduced in Sutton CCG, London in November 2015 and so far the initiative has reduced hospital stays by 4.4 days per resident, saving £354,994 in 2017/18; stopped patients losing personal items such as dentures, glasses and hearing aids; and improved communication between care home and hospital staff saving time, resources and duplication.

Wiltshire CCG has taken elements from the Sutton CCG model and worked it into a project that is aimed at improving the experience, quality and safety of patient care, reducing pressure on A&E and supporting effective working relationships between care homes and health and social care organisations.