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Red bag for care home residents gets the green light
20 November 2017

Care home residents in east and west Suffolk are set to benefit from a new ‘Red Bag’ scheme which will help them receive quicker and more effective care should they need to go into hospital.

The red bag contains important medical information, medication and personal items. It is packed by care home staff and handed to the ambulance staff who then pass it on to the hospital staff on arrival.

The red bag keeps all the patient’s important information in one place with the aim of speeding up the handover time between ambulance and hospital and providing a smoother and less stressful experience for the patient. It means that nurses and doctors have timely information about the patient, resulting in fewer calls to the care home and easier interaction with the patient.

The initiative is a partnership between 20 local care homes, NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk and NHS West Suffolk clinical commissioning groups, West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust and the East of England Ambulance Service.

Each bag will display the person’s name, along with details of their care home - including a unique care home ID - and their current medication plan. The bag will include items such as inhalers, prescribed cream and eye drops as well as glasses, hearing aids and dentures. It stays with the patient for the duration of their hospital stay. When the patient is 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 have access to this important information when their resident arrives home. 

Ben Harvey, lead care homes clinical support manager for the CCGs, said: “This is such a simple, patient-focussed concept that has the potential to deliver real benefits to patients and those involved in their care. Being admitted to hospital can be a worrying time and anything that can be done to make it easier is to be welcomed. This is another good example of our local health services working together effectively in partnership."

Lisa Nobes, director of nursing at Ipswich Hospital, said: "This is a very welcome new way of making sure our older patients get the fastest journey to hospital from care homes in Suffolk."

Steve Dunn, chief executive at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: "This initiative should really improve patient experience as well as give medical teams all the relevant information to enable a smooth transfer of care. I'm sure it will be a huge success and a great example of how different health teams come together to improve patient care."

To help local care home staff understand more about this red bag initiative they are being invited to attend an event at Blackbourne Hall, Elmswell on Wednesday 22 November 1 – 4 p.m. They will be able to meet with colleagues from participating health organisations and ask questions.

Any care home staff who would like to attend the event should contact Amy Woodward, care home administrator, NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG, on amy.woodward@suffolk.nhs.uk or 01473 770035.