A new initiative has been launched to help ensure care home residents in Wolverhampton receive safe and effective support when they need to go to hospital in an emergency.
The “red bag scheme” will see poorly residents given a transfer bag which will be with them from the moment they leave their care home until the time they return from hospital.
The bag includes medication, belongings, standardised paperwork and personal and clinical information about the resident which will assist ambulance and hospital staff and ensure the resident’s admission and journey to and from hospital is as comfortable as possible.
It is based on a successful scheme introduced in the London borough of Sutton to address gaps in the care and support network – both clinical and socially – for poorly residents who needed to go into hospital, including paperwork not being standardised and belongings and medications going missing.
The red bags should help speed up the transfer between home and hospital and cut the time residents have to spend in hospital, with evidence elsewhere suggesting the length of stay could be reduced by up to four days. It could also save nursing staff up to 40 minutes per shift which would otherwise be spent chasing documents, personal items and toiletries.
The red bag scheme was officially launched by the Mayor of Wolverhampton Councillor Elias Mattu at an event at Linden House attended by representatives from the City of Wolverhampton Council, The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, Wolverhampton Clinical Commissioning Group, West Midlands Ambulance Service and 11 local care homes who are taking part in a six-month pilot.
Mayor Councillor Mattu said: “The red bag scheme is a great example of partnership working across health and social care which will ensure patient safety and improve their experience if they have to go to hospital.
“We have seen elsewhere the benefits that transfer bags can bring; in many cases, they will help significantly reduce the time people have to spend in hospital, and also free up the time of healthcare professionals by ensuring they have all the information they need about their patients to hand.
“Even simple things like ensuring patients have their own toiletries with them will save nursing staff time and money sourcing these items.”
David Laughton CBE, Chief Executive of the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, 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 to speed up the discharge process and get them back into their own environment as quickly as possible.”
Eleven local care homes are taking part in the six-month pilot, with the bags being rolled out to as many of the City’s 76 care homes in due course.