1 August 2019

People living in care homes in Shropshire are set to benefit from an innovative scheme to help them receive quick and effective treatment following an emergency admission into SaTH’s hospitals.

The “Red Bag” scheme is a national initiative being trialled by health and care partners in Shropshire, including SaTH.

After being successfully implemented in Telford & Wrekin last year, the scheme is now being rolled out to initially four Shropshire Care homes, Montgomery House, Isle Court, Holy Cross and The Vicarage in Shrewsbury.

Care home residents who may need to attend hospital in an emergency, will be given a specially designed red bag that will not only contain their personal items but important information about their general health and wellbeing.

This information will include any existing medical conditions they have, medication they are taking, as well as information highlighting any current health concerns and important personal details about the individual’s health and wellbeing.

This means that ambulance and hospital staff can determine the treatment for the resident more quickly, and provide more immediate, appropriate and effective treatment.

When they are ready to go home, a copy of their discharge summary (which details every aspect of the care they received in hospital) will be placed in the red bag, along with their medication, so that care home staff have immediate access to this important information.

Councillor Dean Carroll, Cabinet Member responsibilities for adult social and public health said: “I am delighted we are now adopting The Red Bag scheme in Shropshire.  We know that people do not want to stay in hospital for longer than is necessary. This initiative will allow patients to have all their medical notes, clothes, etc, in one place and will help get vulnerable and elderly people the treatment they need and get them home as soon as possible.”

Evidence from where the scheme has been introduced in other areas has shown that it can reduce average hospital stays for care home residents by three to four days. It has also stopped patients losing personal items such as dentures, glasses and hearing aids.

It has improved communication between care home and hospital staff – so saving time, resources and duplication.

The Red Bag scheme will also 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.

Dr Kevin Eardley, Medical Director for Unscheduled Care at SaTH, said: “Patients living in care homes are often the most vulnerable, and when acutely ill, they are less able to communicate their symptoms and needs. The Red Bag scheme will very much help us in our assessment of patients when they first arrive, and will help ensure that they receive the most appropriate treatment earlier.”

Alison Massey, Urgent Care Redesign Lead for Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “This is a great example of how collaborative working across a range of organisations improves care for people. Being admitted to hospital as an emergency is a stressful and worrying time for anyone, and even more so for frail older people. Therefore knowing that the Red Bag contains all the information needed about their illness, alongside their personal belongings, will be reassuring.”

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman added:  “We fully support the Red Bag Project as when patients need transporting to hospital, anything that helps avoid a delay can only be a good thing. It also means our staff can solely concentrate on treating the patient, rather than spending time searching for the various items needed if a patient is being transported to hospital.”