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Red bags packed with care for elderly hospital patients

Published: 10 May 2018

A scheme designed to support care home residents if they go in to hospital is being launched across Derbyshire.


A partnership between health and social care and the voluntary and community sector has developed the Red Bag Hospital Transfer scheme – a simple and effective way to ensure patients get the right care when they are admitted from a care home, throughout their stay and when they are discharged.

Red bags are packed by care home staff with everything a patient needs for an emergency stay in hospital including vital paperwork, a change of clothes and personal items such as glasses or a phone.

The project is supported in partnership by Derbyshire County Council, Hardwick, North Derbyshire, Erewash and Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), Chesterfield Royal Hospital, Royal Derby Hospital, Derbyshire Community Health Service, East Midlands Ambulance Service and Patient Transport Service, Arriva Patient Transport, Age UK, Derby City Council and council-run and independent care homes across Derbyshire.

All the partners have worked together to come up with a common set of paperwork which will be used by all services to ensure the patient’s admission and discharge from hospital is as smooth and efficient as possible.

It includes information about the resident and any ongoing health issues to help ambulance and hospital staff involved in their care, particularly if the patient is living with dementia.

Easily recognisable, the bags also help to ensure the patient’s belongings are less likely to go missing – saving distress for the patient and staff time in looking for the lost items.

Already successfully trialled in other parts of the country, the bag remains with the patient throughout their hospital stay until they return to their care home, where staff clean them ready for use by the next person.

Councillor Jean Wharmby, our cabinet member for adult care said:

“Going in to hospital is an upsetting time for anyone but for older people this can be particularly stressful as they are forced to leave surroundings and people they know.

“We hope that the Red Bag Hospital Transfer scheme will help to alleviate some of this anxiety by ensuring their admission and discharge from hospital runs as smoothly as possible and ensure the resident is treated with dignity and respect.

“We’re committed to giving older people across Derbyshire access to quality care and this is just one way health, social care and voluntary sector partners are working together to achieve this.”

We've bought 350 bags for use within Derbyshire county care homes at a cost of £15,000 with a further £7,000 provided by health services for 137 bags within Derby city care homes.Clare Walker, from Hardwick Clinical Commissioning Group on behalf of the four CCGs, said:

“Unfortunately there are times when belongings go missing and this is distressing for the person affected. Not only that but hospital, care home and ambulance staff spend a lot of time looking for the missing items and incur costs to replace them. This could be minimised by using the red bags.

“There is a significant level of enthusiasm and energy from all the Derbyshire partners to ensure that the successes of the programmes that have been trialled elsewhere in the country are replicated for the people of Derbyshire.”

The red bags will be launched across Derbyshire in June to coincide with the launch of ReSPECT – a nationally-recognised document allowing patients to create an emergency care plan if they are unable to make their own choices.