Looking beyond the current uncertainty regarding health and social care provision, I admire the health and social care professionals who strive to drive forward ideas brimming with common sense.

I've been learning about 'The Red Bag Scheme'. Sensible folk have been putting their heads together, working with enthusiasm within our care system. 'The Red Bag Scheme' has been developed in partnership with Epsom and St Helier Hospital Trust, Sutton and Merton Community Services, London Ambulance Service and staff from Sutton care homes. Across these disciplines, they have met regularly and agreed on a proven protocol that will ease essential communication at the interface of the NHS and Social Care.

What is 'The Red Bag Scheme'?

From time to time, unfortunately, anyone can require the additional acute care, diagnostics and medical interventions provided by the NHS. Should your home be a care home, by definition, it is likely you may need additional assistance in preparing for travel to an acute healthcare setting in order to receive specialist support.

'The Red Bag Scheme' has been specifically developed with care home residents in mind. This initiative has been developed by the 'Sutton Homes of Care Project' as part of the national Vanguard programme (an NHS England New Care Models programme), to improve care in residential and nursing homes with regard to The Hospital Transfer Pathway.

When a care home resident needs to go into a hospital, a red bag is packed for them. It contains their details, vital information about their health conditions, supplies of medicine, glasses, dentures and other essentials, and a change of clothes for when they are ready to be discharged.

When patients are ready to go home, a copy of their discharge summary (which details every aspect of the care they received in hospital) will be placed in the red bag, along with their medication, so that care home staff have access to this important information when their residents arrive back home.

The result is a win/win. Older people are spending less time in hospital - good for the individual and good for the health service.

Here are some numbers reported by the care homes:

A&E attendances - down 15% from residential homes, down 31% from nursing homes

Unplanned admissions - down 3% from residential homes, down 25% from nursing homes

These videos help explain how the scheme works:


A Resident's perspective:



A Care Home Manager's perspective:



Hospital training film:


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