A new pilot project, which aims to improve emergency care for elderly patients, has been launched at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
The Red Bag initiative, which is being introduced today, will see residents from 16 care homes carrying bags containing critical medical information and personal belongings with them, if they need to be taken into hospital.
The move is intended to ensure that doctors and nurses have access to their full medical history.
Clara Moore, the hospital’s chief operating officer, said the project would make “a huge difference” to patients.
She said: “Seriously ill patients who are disorientated are not always able to provide a medical history to our doctors and nurses but our teams will now have the full picture thanks to the Red Bags.
“This hospital is on a mission to provide the highest standard of care for older patients.”
The scheme has been developed from a similar initiatve run in Surrey.
The bags will contain standard documents about the patient’s general state of health and their medical history, plus personal items.
The hospital has worked with the care sector and the East of England Ambulance Service on the scheme, which they think will make handovers from ambulance crews more efficient and improve communication between hospital and care home staff.
Claire Roberts, associate director of patient experience, said it was a “simple, but innovative approach” to the issues surrounding the link between health and social care.
She said: “It acts as a flag to ensure our staff keep the care home up to date with what is happening and that planning for discharge is undertaken in conjunction with them.
“When the patient is ready to return there is an agreed set of information from the hospital that goes into the red bag.
“This ensures that the staff at the care home are fully informed of all that has taken place and any changes to treatment or medication.”
So far, the initiative has been funded through the QEH’s own charitable funds, plus a contribution from its League of Friends.
Project manager A J Weir said they are hoping to expand the scheme to other care homes in the future.