An initiative set up by the City of Wolverhampton Council and Wolverhampton Clinic Commissioning Group is ensuring care home residents in Wolverhampton receive safe and effective support if they need to go into hospital in an emergency.
The ‘Red Bag’ project ensures patients who are referred to hospital will be given a Red Bag which contains medication, belongings, paperwork and personal and clinical information about the resident, which will assist ambulance and trust staff to speed up the transfer process. The Bag stays with the care home resident from the time they leave their care home to go to hospital, until the time they return to their care home at the end of their stay in hospital.
The project is based on a successful scheme introduced in the London borough of Sutton to sort out problems including paperwork not being standardised and belongings and medications going missing.
35 care homes in Wolverhampton are currently using Red Bags for admissions with the aim for 57 homes to be piloting Red Bags by June 2018. Early indications have shown that 64 per cent of pilot care homes participating in the project from December 17 to January 18 saw length of stay reduced on average by up to three days. Also 50 per cent of the homes saw a reduction or no increase in admissions to hospital.
This initiative is focusing on residents in care homes who are transferred to Accident and Emergency (A&E) at Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust (RWT) and is aimed at improving transition along the hospital pathway as per NICE guidance.
Susan Eagle, Commissioning Officer for City of Wolverhampton Council and Co-ordinator for the Red Bag project said: “The Red Bag project has enabled everyone to have a visual tool to be able to put documentation, that’s comprehensive, into a Red Bag and ensure the safe transfer of patients and residents to hospital.
“The project has allowed us to be person-centred and helped us realise a number of benefits such as reducing the length of stay if someone is admitted. The Sutton project found it is around four days, but through our sample size it has been on average up to three days. For some homes it was higher.
“The project has also helped our key delivery partners such as the West Midlands Ambulance Service, care homes and the hospital teams to be able to do their job more efficiently. It’s ensured they can look at standardised documentation to find the detailed information they need to make an informed medical assessment, which has helped to support admission avoidance. The pilot has shown conveyance rates from the care homes to hospital decrease by 33 percent and calls to the ambulance service decrease by 28% compared to the same period in 2016/17.
“The care homes have seen the project as a new challenge. Once we were able to explain to them what the project was all about, they have been able to co-ordinate their staff. By having a set of standardised documents, the care homes are able to have a more comprehensive picture for all of their residents.”
Councillor Sandra Samuels OBE, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Services, said: “The red bag scheme is a great example of partnership working across health and social care which will ensure patient safety and improve their experience if they have to go to hospital.
"It is helping significantly reduce the time people have to spend in hospital, and also freeing up the time of healthcare professionals by ensuring they have all the information they need about their patients to hand.”
Tom Jackson, Hospital Ambulance Liaison Officer, said: “The Red Bag project is an important project for Wolverhampton. The project provides us with standardised information that the ambulance crew know they can use as part of their clinical decision making tool.
“If we have the Red Bag, all the information we have is there which we can then pass onto the hospital. The hospital then utilises that information and decide whether the patient needs to be admitted or can be sent back home again. It is an excellent project.”
For more information on the Red Bag project, click here.