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The Red Bag: Improving care for care home residents

Red bag scheme
The Red Bag: Improving care for care home residents
18 April 2018

A new scheme is being launched to help people living in Barnsley care homes receive quick and effective treatment should they need to go into hospital in an emergency.

The Red Bag keeps important information about a care home resident's health in one place and is easily accessible to ambulance and hospital staff. When a care home resident becomes unwell and is assessed as needing hospital care, care home staff place the resident’sstandardised paperwork and their medication in the red bag. It may also be used to transfer patients’ essential belongings, such as glasses, hearing aids or dentures to ensure these items are present during their hospital stay.

The Red Bag contains standardised information about the resident's general health, any existing medical conditions they have, medication they are taking, as well as highlighting the current health concern. This means that ambulance and hospital staff can determine the treatment a resident needs more effectively.

It’s a simple effective change which facilitates a smoother handover between care home, ambulance and hospital staff.

The Red Bag stays with patients whilst they are in hospital. When they are ready to go home, a copy of their discharge summary (which details all of the care they received in hospital) will be placed in the red bag so that care home staff have access to this important information when their residents arrive back home.

The Red Bag also clearly identifies a patient as being a care home resident and this means that it may be possible for the patient to be discharged from hospital sooner. Care homes will be involved in discussions with the hospital to understand residents’ care needs, meaning they are able to offer better support to the resident when they are discharged.

Brigid Reid, Chief Nurse at NHS Barnsley CCG said: “The best thing about the Red Bag is that it puts the patients’ needs firsts. Because the paperwork is standardised for every patient, the handover between staff, including ambulance transfers, can be more effective and aims to improve the speed with which the patient gets the required treatment, which has benefits for both patient safety and experience.

"It will also assist communication between care home staff and hospital staff to have a better understanding of eachother's roles in the care of vulnerable patients.

"The Red Bag scheme is a valuable step forward in care received by local care home residents.”

Local NHS organisations including the CCG, Barnsley Hospital, SWYPFT and Yorkshire Ambulance Service have worked closely together in implementing this national Red Bag Scheme, which will be launched in Barnsley later during April 2018. All Barnsley Care Homes have been provided with a number of red bags to use.