‘Red bags’ packing a difference for care home residents
14 June 2018
The red bag scheme or ‘hospital transfer pathway’ is a small change having a big impact by personalising hospital care for care home residents in south east Essex.
This simple patient focused initiative will improve the
ambulance service handover to the hospital and will also assist to
reduce A&E assessment times for the patient.
When a care home resident becomes unwell and requires hospital
care, care home staff will pack a red bag which will have been
personalised for the individual and will consist of standardised
paperwork about the residents' health care needs, a list of their
medication, along with personal items, such as glasses, hearing
aids, toiletries and day-of-discharge clothes and all will be
transported to the hospital with the patient.
As a borough, Southend-on-Sea has three times the number of
people living in care homes than the national average. Due to
the complex and long-term nature of the health issues of many care
home residents, there are often frequent and sometimes sudden
admissions to hospital.
Admissions and discharges involve input from several health and
care organisations and all depends on good, robust communication
and having the relevant information present.
Initially the scheme will be being rolled out to all care homes
in Southend, followed by care homes in the Castle Point and
James Currell, General Manager for Medical Specialities at
Southend University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "This is
a great example of how local health and social care services can
work together in partnership to improve patient care.
"We know that it can be confusing and very stressful for care
home residents when they need to be transferred to hospital,
particularly in an emergency, but this simple patient centred
initiative will enhance patients' experiences by ensuring a
smoother transfer in and out of hospital.
"We also welcome the positive impact it will have for patient
safety by allowing health care professionals to immediately
identify the patient as a care home resident. It provides us with
the information we need to provide individualised care, which is
particularly important for patients with memory problems or longer
term dementia. The Red Bag also makes it simpler to keep track of
the patients' essential belongings and other items including
As vital patient information will be in one place and this will
travel with the patient, it will save time at each stage of the
Discharge information will also be put into the red bag so when
patients return to their care home, staff can ensure any advice
given can be followed up straight away, instead of waiting to hear
from the GP.
Ryan O'Shea, Senior Development Manager for Primary Care at NHS
Southend Clinical Commissioning Group, said:"We are all very
excited about the launch of the red bag scheme, as it has been
shown to improve the quality of care provided across the system to
care home residents.
"It is a valuable step forward in improving care for local care
home residents; putting the patients' needs first, by enabling
smoother transfers of care and therefore reducing any stress or
anxiety for the patient which is a huge benefit.
"There has been partnership working with local care homes, our
local authority and the hospital to develop the scheme and we all
look forward to the benefits it will bring to individuals and the
"The scheme has proved so successful in some parts of our region
that it's been rolled out across the country with the help of a new
quick guide published today.
"The guide aims to provide care homes, trusts, CCGs and
ambulance services with practical tips on how to implement the
"A simple change, the scheme has shown to reduce hospital
delays, help stop patients losing personal items and improve
communication between care home and hospital staff."
Notes to editors:
- The Red Bag scheme in south east Essex has been achieved
through partnership work between NHS Southend Clinical
Commissioning Group, Southend University NHS Hospital Trust, East
of England Ambulance Trust and south Essex care homes.
2 The Red
Bag contains standardised but current information about the health
and well-being of the resident, a list of medication needs,
personal aids and belongings (such as glasses, hearing aids,
clothes) and this stays with them from the time they leave the care
home to go into hospital, until the time they return to the care
home at the end of their hospital stay.
Each red bag has a
personalised serial number for
each care home resident to facilitate tracking
admissions or discharges and the red bag itself
identifies the patient as a care home
3 For more
information locally, please visit the Southend CCG website at www.southendccg.nhs.uk
or email us firstname.lastname@example.org
initiative was pioneered by Sutton Homes of Care, South London, in
2015. Sutton was subsequently chosen as one of six enhanced health
in care homes vanguard areas as part of the 2016-17 New Care Models
Nationally, nearly 50% of Health and Wellbeing Boards report they
have started the scheme in their area and 90% say they aim to roll
it out next year.
Further information on the scheme can be found on