Red bag

A red bag: a simple change packing a difference

The innovative red bag scheme is helping to provide a better care experience for care home residents by improving communication between care homes and hospitals.

The red bag is the most visible part of successful collaboration between care homes, hospitals and ambulance staff, known as the hospital transfer pathway.

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 change which is proving to have benefits for both patients and the NHS. It facilitates a smoother handover between care home, ambulance and hospital staff with fewer phone calls and follow-ups made by the hospital staff to care homes looking for health information about the resident.

Length of stay can also be reduced – NHS Sutton clinical commissioning group (CCG) found that residents with a red bag spent four days less in hospital than those without a red bag, saving £167,000 a year. It also stopped patients losing personal items such as dentures, glasses and hearing aids worth £290,000 in a year.

Currently just over 40% of Health and Wellbeing Boards have reported that they have implemented the red bag scheme in their area and a quick guide has been published to help increase this number.

The quick guide aims to support health and social care systems, providing practical tips and case studies on how to roll the scheme out successfully. To support this further, a series of webinars have been planned to provide training, advice and resources for CCGs, NHS trusts and care homes:

  • 27 June, Wednesday – 11:00 am to 12:30 pm
  • 9 July, Monday – 10:30 am to 12:00 pm
  • 13 July, Friday – 10:30 am to 12:00 pm
  • 18 July, Wednesday – 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm