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Red Bags smooth the way for hospital stays

Red Bags smooth the way for hospital stays

A simple red bag is helping reduce the time care home residents spend in hospital – and making their stay less stressful. It is being rolled out to all care homes in east and north Hertfordshire today (Monday 3 July).

Initial results from a three month study in Sutton found that the average length of stay for patients with a ‘Red Bag’ was shorter than for those without. 

The Red Bag procedure involves packing a bag with all the information and personal belongings relevant to a care home resident when they need to go into hospital.

Each bag is numbered and contains an audit form with a check list. The documentation is inserted into the transparent side pocket of the bag while their medication and personal items - such as glasses, dentures, hearing aids, reading material and a set of clothes to go home in - all go into the main compartment of the bag.

The bag is handed to ambulance staff who pass it to hospital staff on arrival.

It means that nurses and doctors have up-to-date information about the patient, including their current medication, mobility and dietary requirements. This means fewer calls to the care home, and easier interaction with the patient.

Mary Tolladay, manager at the Hatfield Residential and Nursing Home, has welcomed the new project, saying: “Red Bag has the potential to improve communications between hospital and care home staff and in doing so improve our residents’ wellbeing when they need to go into hospital.

“It is such a simple concept and we are wholeheartedly engaging with this new way of doing things.”

The Red Bag project is part of our Better Care for Care Home Residents ‘vanguard’ programme, a partnership between East and North Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Hertfordshire County Council and the Hertfordshire Care Providers Association. It is funded by NHS England.

Dave Wright, Senior Locality Manager from the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust said: “This idea may be simple, but we at the ambulance service think it is a fantastic one. Not only will this help streamline our services, but it will also improve the patient experience for those who use it, ensuring that all correct documentation is in one place.”

Andrew Hood, Chief Pharmacist at The Lister Hospital added: “The Red Bag initiative has already been shown to be a success in other areas of the country, and we look forward to seeing these improvements for our patients too, with safer, more effective and efficient care whenever health and social care come together."

This video, produced by Hertfordshire Care Providers Association, explains how the 'Red Bags' work.