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HRCH launch 'red bag scheme' to help care home residents

The NHS red bag used for Richmond care home residents

Tuesday 30 May 2017 

Elderly people living in Richmond care homes are now benefiting from an innovative scheme to help them receive quick and effective treatment, should they need to go into hospital in an emergency.   

The local NHS trust’s new 'red bag' initiative has been launched to help elderly residents in Richmond care homes, who are transferred to A&E at Kingston Hospital and West Middlesex University Hospital by London Ambulance Services.     
The red bags contains personal items such as dentures, glasses, hearing aid and toiletries, as well as a change of clothes and pair of slippers so the person can function well, get out of bed and be ready to go home from hospital as soon as they are able.    
The bags also contain standardised information about the person’s general health, any existing medical conditions they have, medication they are taking, as well as highlighting the current health concern and important personal details about the individual.  This means that ambulance and hospital staff can determine the treatment a resident needs more effectively.  

Launched in early June, the scheme has been designed to support care homes, the London Ambulance Service, Kingston Hospital and West Middlesex University Hospital to meet the requirements of the national guidance on the transition between inpatient hospital settings and care homes.  
This will save time during the transfer of the resident from care home to ambulance and from ambulance to A&E. It will also allow A&E staff to make more informed decisions about the patient, as they will always be aware that she/he is a care home resident. 

Hounslow and Richmond Community Healthcare NHS Trust developed the red bag initiative together with Richmond Community Health in Partnership, Richmond CCG, Kingston Hospital NHS  Trust, Chelsea and Westminster Foundation NHS Trust – West Middlesex Hospital, London Ambulance Service and representatives of the Care Homes in Richmond.            

The new scheme was launched at Kingston Hospital recently by Duncan Burton, director of nursing
The red bag scheme launch event at Kingston Hospital
Sasha Pearce, senior clinical transformation lead at HRCH said:   

“We’ve launched the ‘red bag scheme’ for elderly care home residents in the borough of Richmond to help reduce the length of stay in hospital, should the person need emergency hospital treatment. Elderly patients can deteriorate very quickly in hospital environments, so we have been looking for ways to speed up the treatment process and get them home faster. Evidence from the red bag scheme, which has been used in Sutton for some time, shows an average reduction of the length of stay in hospital of four days.   

“The initiative provides ambulance and hospital staff with all of the patient’s information that they need to provide faster and more effective treatment – such as details of medications and general health information and current concerns; whilst also improving care and dignity for the patient while they’re at hospital - ensuring they have access to key possessions such as glasses, dentures, and a change of clothes to go home in. Discharge information is also put back into the bag so the care home can ensure any advice is followed up straight away, instead of waiting to hear from the GP.”  

“We have enjoyed working closely with local care home and hospital staff to develop this scheme - and are really excited and grateful that all our health partners have been so positive about making this work.” 

For more information on the red bag scheme for Richmond, contact Sasha Pearce, HRCH clinical transformation lead on email: Sasha.Pearce@HRCH.NHS.UK