Red bag eases journey from care home to hospital

Posted: February 9, 2018

Simple initiative hopes to prevent unnecessary delays

Two care homes in Swindon are piloting a new initiative whereby residents who need to visit hospital are accompanied by a distinctive red bag, which contains all relevant medical information as well as their personal belongings.

The red bags will stay with the patient for the duration of a hospital visit and contain specific admission and discharge checklists for medical staff to fill out.

These lists will help ensure that every member of the medical team receives the same information and nothing gets misplaced or miscommunicated on the way in or out of hospital.

Gill May, Executive Nurse from Swindon Clinical Commissioning Group said: "The idea behind the red bag is so simple yet has the potential to be so powerful for care home residents who need to visit hospital and could be seen by a number of staff over a period of days.

"Having all of the relevant information about a patient in one stand-out place will help staff make the best decisions for that patient, and equally, their care home will be able to continue doing so once the patient has returned."

The sorts of information contained in the bag will include a general medical history - including any pre-existing medical conditions and medication the person is taking - as well as details of the immediate health concern.

Tracy Brain, Manager at Lansdowne Hill said: "The most important thing is that patients have the best experience and receive the best care possible, and a lot of that is down to effective communication between each member of staff looking after them."

Efficient communication helps build good working relationships and working practices between the care home and hospitals, which ensures that a resident's hospital admission and discharge is also efficient.

Paulette Knight, Head of Site at the Great Western Hospital, said: "This initiative will ensure the nursing team has everything they need to care for and treat the patient as soon as they arrive on the ward, reducing the time they have to wait for vital information.

"It will help speed up the discharge process and get them back to their own environment as quickly as possible." 

The pilot launched in December 2017 and will be reviewed after six months to evaluate how it is working and decide whether the red bags will be introduced into all care homes in Swindon.

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