Red Bag Scheme – Bringing Care Homes and NHS Hospitals Together
Collaboration between residential care homes and the NHS is proving to be beneficial for individual residents and the health service as a whole.
The Red Bag Scheme
Well considered but simple ideas are so often the very best ones. Residential care homes have been packing a red bag for residents who need to be admitted to hospital. These red bags include vital medication, their personal details, clothes for when they are well enough to be discharged and information for the hospital staff, such as details about the residents’ health conditions.
This simple idea means that hospital staff are able to treat an individual efficiently and effectively, and there aren’t any unnecessary delays. All too often, patients are ready to be discharged but they can’t be because their clothes cannot be found. In these cases, staff members may be tasked with finding something appropriate from the lost property department of the hospital, which, needless to say, is an unnecessary task that the NHS could do without.
Alongside the red bags themselves, the scheme also ensures that a member of staff from the care home goes to visit the patient in hospital. This interaction will benefit the patient and also the nursing staff, who may have questions that can be answered quickly by someone who knows the individual and their needs well.
The scheme has successfully reduced the time elderly residents are spending in hospital. Before the initiative was established, the average hospital stay was twelve days, and this has now been reduced to eight. Staying in hospital longer than is necessary is detrimental to the patient, and shorter stays are also beneficial for the NHS.
Medical Check-ups Within Private Care Homes
Alongside the red bag scheme, there are other initiatives that have been set up between care homes in Surrey and the NHS. Having GPs making regular visits to care homes and ensuring that each resident is able to have a health check-up twice a year has been hugely beneficial. Pharmacists have been visiting residential homes to review all medication, and district nurses have been conducting training for care home staff in areas such as diabetic care, dealing with falls and caring for individuals with dementia.
Such close collaboration between all involved has produced tangible results. Visits to Accident & Emergency have been reduced by ten per cent, for example.
There should be no difference to the care someone receives in his or her own home and the care someone receives in a residential home. When the Care Quality Commission investigated, the majority of the homes stated that regular visits from GPs did not occur.
Closer relationships between care homes in Surrey, and across the rest of the country, will ensure that every resident has access to the quality care that they need.