A red bag: a simple change packing a difference

  • 21 June 2018


The red bag scheme or ‘hospital transfer pathway’ is a small change having a big impact on care home residents in the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire area.

When a resident becomes unwell and is assessed as needing hospital care, care home staff pack a dedicated red bag that includes the resident’s standardised paperwork and their medication, as well as day-of-discharge clothes and other personal items. 

It’s a simple initiative but one which is providing better communication between care homes and hospitals at all points of the resident’s journey into hospital and back home again.

In Bristol, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire, a 12 month pilot scheme has launched and will include all local hospital trusts, working with care homes across the local area.

Dr Lesley Ward, local GP and CCG Clinical Lead for Unplanned Care, said: “This is a small change that will make a big difference in improving patients’ experience. By joining up the providers through the red bag, we’ll be able to deliver better, more personalised care and a better experience for people in their journey from care home to hospital and back again.”

The red bag ensures that ambulance and hospital staff can quickly understand a resident’s condition and personal needs – as well as facilitate a smooth transfer back to their ‘home’ environment.

Deputy Manager of Bristol’s Field House Care Home, Dee Smart, said: “The bags will help improve communication from one care facility to another and ensure a safer transition between services. This will help to keep the focus on individual residents throughout the process and improve the care we provide.”

Dr Rachael Morris-Smith from Weston Area Health NHS Trust, said: “Making a patient’s stay in hospital less stressful is absolutely critical and the red bag scheme is a great way to support this. The patient can also have confidence that their belongings are safe and that key health information stays with them throughout their hospital stay.”

The scheme has proved so successful in parts of our region, that it’s been rolled out across the country with the help of a new quick guide published today.

The guide aims to provide care homes, trusts, CCGs and ambulance services with practical tips on how to implement the scheme.

Sue Doheney, Director of Nursing, NHS England South, said; “This is a great example of a simple idea helping to make a big difference to patients, making them feel more reassured and at home. The scheme helps health and care professionals to provide more efficient, co-ordinated care.”

A simple change, the scheme has shown to reduce hospital delays, help stop patients losing personal items and improve communication between care home and hospital staff.