New "Red bag" scheme for hospital transfer

Local hospitals have joined together with care homes in Lambeth to introduce the ‘red bag’ scheme. The red bag helps to provide a prompt, safe and efficient transfer of clinical care, when a resident moves between a care home and clinical settings.
A picture of the red bag

Both of our local hospital trusts, Guy’s and St Thomas’ & King’s College, are taking part in the project.

The bags contain key paperwork, medication, and personal items such as glasses, dentures or hearing aids. Whenever a person needs to go to hospital, the red bag goes with them. It aims to make a the handover between the care home, ambulance and hospital staff easier. The bag stays with the person until they return home, when it will contain their discharge summary/ nursing transfer letter.

The project started 5 years ago in Sutton. So far it has:

  • reduced hospital stays by 3 to 4 days
  • saved £167,000 each year
  • stopped people losing personal items
  • improved communication between care homes and hospital staff

With an ever growing older population, it is important that initiatives like this work to help reduce hospital stays.

Over the summer 2018 we evaluated the service, and spoke with residents, and their families, in care homes who have used the red bag when admitted to hospital. Afterwards, we will be sharing our information with the Health Innovation Network.

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