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A small change having a big impact on care home residents in Greater Nottingham

The hospital transfer pathway, or ‘red bag’ scheme, was introduced in October 2017 when health commissioners in Greater Nottingham launched the innovative scheme to help people living in care homes get quick and effective treatment when they need an emergency admission to hospital

It’s a simple initiative, but it has improved communication between care homes and hospitals at all points of the resident’s journey into hospital and back home again, which obviously has a major impact on the patient’s experience

The scheme is very straightforward – when a care home resident becomes unwell and is assessed as needing hospital care, care home staff pack a dedicated red bag that includes the resident’s standardised paperwork and their medication, as well as their personal items and an outfit for when they are discharged. It ensures ambulance and hospital staff can quickly understand a resident’s condition and personal needs, and it also facilitates a smooth transfer back to their ‘home’ environment.

When they leave hospital, the red bag is goes back to the care home with them and has a copy of their discharge summary inside, giving the care home staff all the information they need about the treatment the resident has received and any new medication regime that may need to be implemented.

It may be a simple change, but the initiative has been shown to reduce hospital delays, help stop patients losing personal items, and improve communication between care home and hospital staff.

Jane Godden, Head of Commissioning Care Homes and Individual Care Packages at Greater Nottingham Clinical Commissioning Partnership said: “The red bag scheme is a simple idea which is making a positive impact in Greater Nottingham. It is helping to improve care for patients from care homes by ensuring that ambulance and hospital staff can easily access the information about their general health, existing conditions and medication they are taking, and any current health concerns. This helps healthcare staff to effectively determine the treatment the patient needs.

“As well as containing paperwork and medication, the red bag lets patients store important personal items like toiletries, glasses and hearing aids. They can also use it to store clothes for when they are discharged from the hospital.

“We implemented the scheme in Greater Nottingham in October 2017 alongside training for care home staff. I am pleased that it is making a positive impact on care home patients.”

The red bag ensures that ambulance and hospital staff can quickly understand a resident’s condition and personal needs – as well as facilitate a smooth transfer back to their ‘home’ environment.

Jayne Peters, Care Home Manager at Moriah House in Carlton, says: said: “At Moriah, we have found the Red Bag really useful because it keeps everything in one place. We have received fewer phone calls about our residents since starting to use the bags as all the information the hospital needs is with them when they arrive.”

One resident at Derbyshire House in East Leake, said: “It was nice to have my belongings with me in one place at all times, ensuring all items were returned with me.”

The scheme has proved so successful that it’s been rolled out across the country with the help of a new quick guide published on the NHS England website.

The guide will provide care homes, trusts, CCGs and ambulance services with practical tips on how to implement the scheme.

Dr Ken Deacon, Medical Director for NHS England (North Midlands), said: “The red bag scheme is a really practical way of NHS and social care services working together to improve patient care for elderly people and speed up their discharge from hospital when they are ready to return to the more relaxed setting of a care home.”


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