UCSD Assistant Practitioner lecturer, Hannah Rollins, last year took part with NHS staff and care homes in North Devon to begin using the so-called red bag scheme and improve the experience of people who are admitted to hospital from a care home.
When a care home resident needs hospital care, Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust staff will pack a dedicated red bag that includes their medication, clothes, toiletries and other personal items, as well as specially designed paperwork containing information about their health and personal items.
“I am thrilled that the care home staff we work with have been so enthusiastic about launching the scheme”
This bag travels with the resident and ensures that the hospital staff and resident have everything they need, making the handover smoother between care home, ambulance and hospital.
The scheme is aimed at improving efficiency and was first tried three years ago by care homes in Sutton in South West London.
However, since last June, NHS England has been urging all areas of the country to use the red bag scheme and has produced a toolkit to help the roll-out.
The red bag scheme is part of a drive to integrate care and will mean patients only have to tell their story once, said NHS England at the time.
Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust staff have initially supported seven care homes in North Devon to start using the red bags when residents are admitted to hospital.
They will be working with other care homes and nursing homes in the near future, said the trust.
Angela Walter, Admiral nurse at the trust, is leading the project. She said: “This is a simple idea but it makes a huge difference to our patients.
“We are providing a couple of red bags for each residential home or nursing home that wishes to be part of this scheme and we can help them arrange additional bags,” she said.
The seven care homes in North Devon starting to use the red bags are Castle House, Fremington Manor, Hatchmoor, Kenwith Castle, Oaklands, Primrose House and Tyspane.
Sarah Winfield-Davies, safeguarding nurse and team lead for the North Devon care homes team, said: “This is another excellent example of the independent care sector and NDHT working in partnership to improve care for residents.
“I am thrilled that the care home staff we work with have been so enthusiastic about launching the scheme, and I’m looking forward to helping Angela get more care homes involved,” she added.