New scheme makes life easier for patients transferring to hospital

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A new scheme helping make the process of admitting care home residents to hospital smoother and more comfortable is being rolled out by Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust.

The ‘red bag’ scheme comprises pre-packed bags which include medical notes, care plans, medication and personal items to be handed to ambulance crews by carers which travel with patients to hospital where they are handed to doctors and healthcare professionals.

Personal items are important to make hospital stays as comfortable as possible and can include the following: clothes for leaving hospital, slippers, toiletries, dentures, hearing aid, glasses and books to read. The bags ensure they are not forgotten in an emergency or left behind on discharge home from hospital.

The use of these red bags have been shown, in an NHS pilot scheme in London, to help get older vulnerable patients home quicker from hospital and, in some cases, reduce the need for admission to hospital from emergency departments.

Gemma Guppy, Quality Assurance and Improvement Nurse for Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is a fantastic way of looking after patients when they have to go to hospital. The inclusion of personal belongings will help make their stay more comfortable.

“Patients are assured of quicker safer treatment by having vital information all in one place in these bags. It also means patients need only need to tell staff once what they need.”

The bag contents include medication and plans outlining what happens if care needs to be escalated (such as during resuscitation and intensive care) and cover other issues health and care staff might need to know.

Gemma said: “These one-stop bags reduce the need for phone calls between hospital and care home staff wanting important information because that will now be with certain residents in these bags at their care homes and where ever they go for treatment.”

The initiative shows how the Trust is integrating care, with health professionals from hospital care and social care working in partnership to make life simpler and easier for patients and carers, she added.

The idea is part of the nationwide NHS Enhanced Health Care in Care Homes Framework and includes training for NHS trusts, GPs and care home staff.

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