The Red Bag Scheme

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. For example, a hospital inpatient procedure or a medical emergency at an acute hospital. A carer may not always be present when this happens, which means that older people will often travel alone. 

The Red Bag Project is a new patient pathway designed to improve arrangements and care for older people. It is aimed at those who currently live in a residential home care environment and needing to go into hospital. This new care provision is designed to make sure residents receive safe and effective treatment should they need to have a hospital stay. 

red bag scheme

How does it work?

To aid the process of receiving care and making the individual feel comfortable, care home staff can pack what is known as a ‘red bag’.  This bag physically travels with that person when they need to go to hospital for treatment. The bag contains standardised information about their general health, knowledge about any existing medical conditions they have, medication they are taking as well as highlighting the current health concern. Ambulance and hospital staff will be able to determine the treatment needed more effectively, reducing time to admit and start the course of treatment.

What has it done so far?

Implementing the Red Bag project has reduced the number of days patients have to spend in a hospital setting. An evaluation completed by Sutton Clinical Commissioning Group found that the 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 80 and above, every 10 days spent in a hospital bed environment will lead to the equivalent of 10 years 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.