A NEW initiative has been launched to make the transfer of patients from hospital to a care home much easier.

County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust are using distinctive red bags to carry essential information, medication and other items such as glasses and hearing aids, to hospital.

The bag travels with the patient, so there’s no delay, and some care homes are also using the scheme to send in vital information with patients having an outpatient appointment.

Norman Devlin, senior nurse for integrated discharge at the Trust, said, “Being admitted to hospital is a worrying time for anyone and the adjustment can be difficult – but the experience can be much harder for patients with dementia.

"We’re constantly looking for ways to make things run as smoothly for them as possible avoiding the distress even minor changes can cause. The red bags are also great for our hospital teams who have vital information at their fingertips.

"We work closely with care homes anyway but are always looking for ways to simplify and streamline processes so the care and experience we give patients are the best they can be. The red bags are proving very effective.”

Carol Jones, manager at Lindisfarne Care Home in Newton Aycliffe which has been using the red bags for several months, said: “I’ve noticed a reduction in the phone calls we get asking for, or checking, information when a patient has perhaps been transferred from the emergency department to a ward. Now, much of the information clinicians need, such as medication charts, travels with the patient in the red bag.

“Around 85 per cent of our residents have dementia and we’re able to give them most of the care they need here at Lindisfarne. But we have certain documents completed in case admission is needed. These include the patient’s individual, ‘This is me’ leaflet which includes details such as the name the patient prefers to be called by, which can be different from their given name and the extent to which they’re able to care for themselves on a daily basis.”