Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is working with Swindon Clinical Commissioning Group to help older people across the town move between care homes and hospital – and vice versa – with minimal delay and without added stress or anxiety.
By providing each care home resident with a distinctive red bag – containing everything from medical notes and pyjamas to current medication and slippers – staff awaiting the patient’s arrival will be able to begin providing care as soon as they come through the door.
The bag will stay with the patient during their journey into hospital, as well as their stay on the ward, before returning with them to their care home.
The launch of the red bags follows a successful pilot between December 2017 to June 2018, which saw improved patient experience and faster discharges, and seeks to ensure patients have their personal belongings, such as clothes, hearing aids and glasses, close at hand and that all medical documents can be updated throughout their hospital journey.
There are 108 bags in circulation across Swindon, with each of the town’s 24 care homes involved in the scheme.
The paperwork enables ambulance and hospital staff to quickly understand the resident’s situation in order to properly assess and provide the appropriate care and, on discharge the suite of documents is updated and returned to the bag to be taken back to the care home.
These documents help ensure that every member of the patient’s medical team receives the same information and nothing gets misplaced or miscommunicated on the way in or out of hospital.
Gill May, Director of Nursing and Transformation at Swindon CCG, said: “The idea behind the red bag is so simple yet has the potential to be so powerful for care home residents who need to visit hospital and could be seen by a number of staff over a period of days.
“Having all of the relevant information about a patient in one stand-out place will help staff make the best decisions for that patient, and equally, their care home will be able to continue doing so once the patient has returned.”
Viv Zinyemba, Trainee Advanced Clinical Practitioner for the department of medicine for the elderly (DOME) and Trust lead for the scheme, said: “We have seen a truly positive response from the pilot scheme and introduction of the bags across the Trust, with staff happily getting behind the scheme and ensuring that each bag stays with the patient it arrived with.
“We have also seen quicker discharges, as vital information is much more accessible to staff. This ensures patients are getting home promptly.”