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Working together for excellent healthcare in North Norfolk and rural Broadland

The Red Bag: Improving life for care home residents - A small change making a big difference

5th Dec 2017

The CCG are trialling a simple way of helping people who live in care homes to receive quicker and effective treatment should they need to go into hospital in an emergency.

The ‘Red Bag’ scheme is being rolled out with 14 selected care homes in North Norfolk, South Norfolk and Norwich CCG areas from Tuesday 5th December.

When a care home resident has to go to hospital they will be accompanied by a ‘Red Bag’ that contains standard information about their general health, some of their personal possessions and personal aids.

By having all this in one place, it supports both health staff and the residents: Ambulance and hospital staff can use the paperwork to assist their decision making. The patient feels more secure and comfortable with the possessions they use every day, if admitted to a bed. When patients are ready to go home, a copy of their discharge summary which details every aspect of the care they received in hospital will be placed in the Red Bag so that care home staff can also easily see the important information they need when their residents arrive back home. 

The Red Bag clearly identifies a patient as being a care home resident. This might help the patient to be discharged sooner, because the care home has been involved in discussions with the hospital and has a better understanding of the care the resident received in hospital.

The Red Bag scheme does not replace the usual clinical conversations and information sharing between the hospital and the patient’s GP.

Joe Farrow, Commissioning Programme Manager, NHS Norwich CCG said: “This sort of scheme has been successful in other areas of the country. We were keen to introduce a smoother discharge method for care home residents returning back home and this simple change has the potential to create a positive impact that will benefit patients.”

Dale Meacham-Roberts,Duty Locality Officer East of England Ambulance NHS Trust, said: "The great thing about the Red Bag is that it is patient-focussed.  Because the information contained within the Red Bag is up to date and standardised for every resident, the handover to the ambulance crew is more efficient and allows the crew to make informed decisions about whether a resident needs to be taken to hospital or can be treated at the home. The process of transferring patients from the care home to hospital is smoother, and when patients arrive at hospital they benefit from greater continuity in the care that they receive.”

Daniel Edmunds, Discharge Lead from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: "We welcome the positive impact it will have on patient safety. Having vital information readily available in one eye-catching place will save time at each stage of the patient's care, allowing staff to make more informed decisions about the person they are caring for.

"Communication between care home staff and trust staff has improved greatly because of the Red Bag and we now have a better understanding of each other's roles in the care of vulnerable patients."