Red Bag keeping everything together for patients

The red bag initiative, or hospital transfer pathway, is being rolled out across North East Lincolnshire's care and nursing homes and it will help people living in care homes receive quick and effective transfer and treatment should they need to go into hospital.
Under the new scheme, when a patient is taken into hospital in an emergency they will have a Red Bag to take with them and this bag will contain:

  • General health information, including any existing medical conditions
  • Medication information so ambulance and hospital staff know immediately what medication they are taking 
  • Personal belongings (clothes for day of discharge, glasses, hearing aid, dentures or other items). 

The standardised paperwork will ensure everyone involved in the care of the patient will have necessary information about their general health, including the current concern, social information and any health information. On discharge the care home will receive a discharge summary with the medications in the red bag.
The CCG developed the initiative after the need was identified following engagement with patients and care homes themselves. The red bag was the proposed solution to provide continuity with medication and personal items, to ensure that residents living in care homes receive safe, coordinated and efficient care should they need to go into hospital in an emergency.
Benefits of the red bag include:

  • The red bag aims to improve patients’ experience of being taken to and from hospital and provides more patient centred care
  • Improved efficiency in the admission and discharge process through having important information readily available in one place, saving time at each stage of the patient's care and allows staff to make more informed decisions about the person they are caring for
  • Communication by all staff involved in the resident’s care to and from hospital will be improved
  • The red bag clearly identifies a patient as being a care home resident and this means that it may be possible for the patient to be discharged sooner. Including clearer coordination of medications and more inclusive discharge planning
  • Reduces loss of documentation
  • Reduces loss of personal belongings.

Bruce Bradshaw, project lead for North East Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group said: “The red bag pathway is a true example of collaboration between health and care agencies. Use of the bags has a number of proven benefits including increased communication between hospital teams and care home staff, shorter stays in hospital and improved quality of information provided to care homes when their residents are discharged.”

Albert Bennett, Accord and Community Forum member explained, "I thought that the red bag scheme was a good idea from when it was first suggested, as it was a simple way of having all the patient's essentials and personal information in one place, packed securely and travelling with them. I have enjoyed being involved from the beginning of the project and planning what went into the Red Bag and I have had positive feedback from people I have spoken to about the scheme."

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