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The simplest ideas are often the best

NHS England’s Head of Planning Delivery and programme lead for the Hospital to Home (H2H) programme explains why the Red Bag transfer scheme is being rolled out across the country:

‘Great things are done by a series of small things brought together’ is a sentiment that aptly captures the development of the Red Bag scheme.

The scheme is a hospital transfer pathway for care home residents and is just one NHS initiative taking place to make care more integrated in care homes; through the Enhanced Health in Care Homes framework.

The Red Bag scheme pioneered by Sutton Homes of Care in 2015 helps to provide a prompt, safe and efficient transfer of clinical care, when a resident moves between a care home and other clinical settings, such as; hospitals or ‘step up’ and ‘step down’ beds.

It has been subsequently adapted and adopted by many areas to improve the flow of information and collaboration between care homes, ambulance services, hospitals and commissioners in their area.

When a resident becomes unwell and is assessed as needing hospital care, care home staff pack a dedicated red bag that contains standardised information about the resident’s general health, any existing medical conditions they have, medication they are taking, as well as highlighting the current health concern.

This means that ambulance and hospital staff can determine the treatment a resident needs more effectively.

The bag also has room for personal belongings, such as clothes for day of discharge, glasses, hearing aid, dentures etcetera, and it stays with the resident from the time they go to hospital, until they return to their care home.

When residents are ready to go home, a copy of their discharge summary, which details the care they received in hospital, is placed in the red bag so that care home staff have access to this important information when their residents’ arrive back.

Drawing upon the experience from Sutton and elsewhere, NHS England’s New Care Models and Hospital to Home Teams have developed a ‘how to’ The Hospital Transfer Pathway- Red Bag Quick Guide’ which provides implementation support for other areas to adopt the scheme with their care providers.

To accompany the Quick Guide, NHS England is organising a series of webinar sessions throughout June and July 2018, for care providers, NHS Trusts, and commissioners. The webinars will include presentations from leaders within systems with developed Red Bag schemes to share their experiences from both a strategic partnership and operational delivery perspective.

Ongoing support to aid implementation is provided by the NHS England Care Sector regional leads who support wider High Impact Change implementation in partnership with Better Care Managers (BCMs) and Local Government Associations (LGA’s) Care and Health Improvement Advisors (CHIAs).

At the crux of the scheme and its implementation is the person centred approach through collaboration and partnership working between health and social care sector.

As Sutton’s own evaluation has found, this simple initiative has led to a reduction in hospital stays by four days in comparison to care home residents not using the scheme, saving £167,000 a year.

The Red Bag also helps reduce occurrences of patients losing personal items such as dentures, glasses and hearing aids and improves communication between care home and hospital staff saving time, resources and duplication.

In the theme of continual improvement and taking the innovation further, NHS England is now working closely with NHS Digital and social care providers to digitalise parts of the process to securely and timely transfer of patient care information.

To facilitate this, a rollout of the NHSmail to social care providers is underway. The Hospital to Home (H2H) team is able to provide more information about the Hospital transfer Pathway and/or NHSmail for social care providers.

Kathryn Evans RGN, BNurs (Hons), MA, Queens Nurse Community Nurse Lead, Nursing and Midwifery Team, NHS England.

Kathryn Evans, Head of Planning Delivery and programme lead for the Hospital to Home (H2H) programme.

Kathryn is a nurse with over 25 years’ experience of working in the NHS, both in Essex, Yorkshire and Humber and nationally. She has worked in a variety of roles. These have included being a District Nurse and then moving into professional leadership and service development.

Kathryn is an experienced operational manager. During her career she has managed a variety of community services from District Nursing and Community Matrons, GP practice, intermediate care wards and a Hospice.

She has worked at a regional level in service improvement and also in an assurance and delivery.

Nationally Kathryn has worked in the Nursing Directorate for NHS England, under the leadership of Professor Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer for England as Community Nurse Lead.

She is now Head of Planning Delivery in the Hospital to Home team fostering collaborative relationships with key partners.

Kathryn is passionate about community nursing, and community services.

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