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A red bag: a simple change packing a difference - 23 June 2018

A red bag: a simple change packing a difference - 23 June 2018

The red bag scheme or ‘hospital transfer pathway’ is a small change having a big impact on care home residents in the Somerset area.

When a resident becomes unwell and is assessed as needing hospital care, care home staff pack a dedicated red bag that includes the resident’s standardised paperwork and their medication, as well as day-of-discharge clothes and other personal items.

It’s a simple initiative but one which is providing better communication between care homes and hospitals at all points of the resident’s journey into hospital and back home again.

In Somerset both Musgrove Park Hospital and Yeovil District Hospital have been piloting the scheme since spring. In the Taunton area, three care homes have utilised the programme on a pilot basis.

Cathy Phillips, clinical site and patient flow manager at Musgrove Park Hospital, said:

“We have been running the red bag scheme across seven care homes in the county – in Bridgwater, Burnham-on-Sea and Taunton. We have also started working with Yeovil Hospital and Somerset Partnership, which runs our community hospitals, to provide a county wide service.

“It’s early days, but initial feedback from the care homes, ward staff and the ambulance service is really positive as it’s given them that extra confidence that the standardise paperwork, medication and patient belongings will stay safely with the patient before, during and after they leave hospital.

“It has also greatly improved the communication and relationships between all the various organisations who care for the patient.”

At Yeovil District Hospital, the response from their four care homes has also been positive. Complex Discharge Nurse Darren Cox said: “We have already seen a really positive impact on patient care from the four care homes we started with and have had 11 patients admitted within the last two months.

"Eight care homes will be using Red Bag Scheme by the end of next week (June 22nd), as well as those being rolled out to patients in the community who have complex medical needs and high rates of admissions.

"With Musgrove Park Hospital leading the scheme in the Taunton area, I am confident that the initiative will benefit patients across Somerset."

“Our aim is to have 35 care homes throughout the region and 60 patients in the community involved in the scheme by October. This will mean a significant improvement in teams throughout the county working together, where staff have everything they need for each patient when they need it, which supports the healthcare team in providing the best possible care for the patient.”

The care homes included Lavender Court and Hamilton Park in Taunton and Oak Trees in Bridgwater.

The scheme has proved successful in various parts of the South region with further schemes planned to launch soon across the country with the help of a new quick guide published this week.

The guide aims to provide care homes, trusts, CCGs and ambulance services with practical tips on how to implement the scheme.

Sue Doheney, Director of Nursing, NHS England South, said; “This is a great example of a simple idea helping to make a big difference to patients, making them feel more reassured and at home. The scheme helps health and care professionals to provide more efficient, co-ordinated care.”

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.