Red Bags launched in Warwickshire to improve care and speed up hospital discharges

Residents in Warwickshire care homes can now benefit from a new initiative to help them get rapid treatment if they go into hospital.

Containing everything from pyjamas to medical notes, the innovative ‘Red Bag’ scheme helps make trips to hospital faster for care home residents who are transferred to A&E departments.

Red Bag project manager Jon Crowley with Cllr Les Caborn. Photo submitted.

Red Bag project manager Jon Crowley with Cllr Les Caborn. Photo submitted.

The Red Bags – which stay with people throughout their hospital stay - contain standardised information about the individual’s overall health, medical conditions, personal details and their present health worry.

This means that ambulance and hospital staff can decide the treatment a care home resident needs quickly and effectively.

Personal objects such as dentures, glasses, hearing aids and toiletries are also in the bag as clothes and slippers.

The Red Bag is already saving time in the handover of residents from care home to ambulance and from ambulance to A&E. It is also assisting hospital ward staff to work towards a quicker discharge. The bag also helps reduce the risk of lost belongings.

The Warwickshire version of the Red Bag builds on use seen elsewhere in the country, and has been developed by Warwickshire County Council alongside partners including Warwickshire’s NHS Hospital Trusts, CCGs, West Midlands Ambulance Service, and care home providers.

Cllr Les Caborn, Warwickshire County Council’s portfolio holder for adult social care and health, said: “The thinking behind the Red Bag is very simple, however it has the potential to be so important for care home residents who require a hospital stay and could be assessed by numerous staff over a number of days.

“Having all of the pertinent details about a patient in one stand-out place will enable staff to take the best choices for that patient, and likewise, their care home will be able to carry on doing so when the patient has come back. It will help provide quicker discharges, making sure patients are getting home promptly.”

Initially, 32 care homes are piloting the bags, with the aim to roll out the scheme to more care homes soon.

They include all of Runwood Homes’ care homes in Warwickshire and Galanos House in Southam.

Speaking about their experience of using the Red Bag, Jo-Anne Wilson, Galanos House Home Manager, said: “The resident didn’t need to stay in for long but the Red Bag followed them, came back with them and had all the paperwork completed.

“The paramedics knew about the scheme and were as keen as we were to put the Red Bag into action.

“The carer, who accompanied the resident to hospital, was reassured that all the information that might be needed was to hand and current.”