Innovative red bag rolled out across West Lancashire

Innovative red bag rolled out across West Lancashire

CARE home residents across West Lancashire are to benefit from an innovative new scheme following a successful pilot.

Suzanne Wilkinson, General Registered Nurse with the Red Bag

The ‘red bag’, was launched as a pilot scheme in June 2018 by NHS West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). It aims to help support care home residents when admitted to hospital by putting all of their essential items including key paperwork, medication and personal items such as glasses, slippers and dentures into one handy red bag, which is then handed to hospital crews by carers and travels with the patient in an ambulance where it is then handed to the doctor, then upon discharge all of the patients items included their updated paperwork is then handed back to the ambulance crew and returned to their patients care home with them.

Following the success of the pilot at the Cleveland House Care Home in Banks, the red bag has now been rolled out successfully across all 30 care homes in West Lancashire and further afield across Sefton, and Southport and Formby.

Christine Stringfellow, director of clinical services at Cleveland House, said: “The introduction of the red bag has really proven popular amongst residents, their families and our care home staff.

“Prior to its introduction a resident could be required to go to hospital with several bags including medication, paperwork and essential items to make their stay comfortable. The introduction of the red bag has streamlined this process and means that everything a resident requires is placed in one handy bag and stays with them throughout the duration of their stay.

“This process has been really welcomed by family members who would prior to its introduction, be required to take multiple bags with them when they escorted their loved one to hospital, which could add additional stress in an already difficult situation, this added stress has been reduced as they now simply take one bag with them.”

Nationally, there are half a million more people aged over 75 than there were in 2010 – and there will be two million more in ten years’ time. They are also spending more years in ill-health than ever before. 

This scheme is just one NHS initiative taking place to make care more proactive in care homes; through the Enhanced Health in Care Homes Vanguard, total bed days have dropped by 4.5 percent as opposed to an increase in areas without the scheme of 1.4 per cent.

John Caine, a GP in West Lancashire and chair at NHS West Lancashire CCG, said: “As well as giving reassurance to patients, the red bag provides hospital staff with quick, up-to-date information and medication requirements for the patient, avoiding unnecessary phone calls.

“This scheme is a great example of how the NHS is integrating care and working in partnership with social care, to ensure that our elderly patients will only have to tell their story once.

“Sometimes it’s the personal touch that makes a big difference to patients, especially if they’re elderly, and the red bag helps people feel reassured and more at home.”