The Red Bag Project is a new patient pathway designed to improve arrangements and care for older people who need to go to hospital who currently live in a residential home care environment. This new care provision is designed to make sure residents living in residential care receive safe and effective treatment should they need to have a hospital stay.
Brighterway are working in association with Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust and care homes across Hampshire to improve the safe and efficient transfer of older people when they need to leave their home for medical treatment. This transfer might be for example a hospital inpatient procedure or a medical emergency at an acute hospital. Often when older people need to leave their home for medical treatment a carer is not present, which will mean older people will often travel alone. Older people in residential care might be living with multiple physical or mental health conditions which will have an impact on their physical mobility, cognitive functioning and communication skills.
How does it work?
To aid the process of receiving care more efficiently and to be able to return to their care home setting as quickly as appropriate, care home staff can pack what is known as ‘Red Bag’ for the individual. This Red Bag physically travels with that older person when they need to go to hospital for treatment. The Red Bag contains standardised information about the individual’s general health, knowledge about any existing medical conditions they have, medication they are taking as well as highlighting the current health concern. The provision of a Red Bag means that ambulance and hospital staff can determine the treatment the older person needs more effectively, reducing time to admit and start the course of treatment quicker.
Perhaps most importantly implementing the Red Bag Project has reduced the number of days patients have to spend in a hospital setting. A Red Bag gives hospital staff more of the information they need to manage a resident while in hospital and support the discharge more efficiently. An evaluation completed by Sutton Clinical Commissioning Group found that length of stay for a Red Bag patient reduced from 12.8 days to 8.4 days, an average of 4.4 day saving. For older people aged over 80 years old, for every 10 days spent in a hospital bed environment this will lead to the equivalent of 10 years of ageing for their muscle strength. Having a Red Bag dramatically reduces the process of discharge, meaning older people are able to return to their residential care setting quicker, aiding recovery.