Bolton will be the first in Greater Manchester to roll out a new scheme which helps care home residents when they are admitted to hospital.
The Red Bag Initiative will be rolled out to all care homes and across Bolton NHS Foundation Trust on November 13.
It aims to improve the experience of care home residents when they are admitted to hospital, and reduce their length of stay by speeding up the discharge process and improving communication between hospitals and care homes.
The distinctive red bags can be easily packed in a hurry and should contain important care notes belonging to the resident, all their medication, and personal items such as a pair of slippers, a change of clothes for when they are returning home and things like their spectacles, dentures and a reading book for passing the time.
The bag will be handed over to ambulance staff and then passed on to hospital staff on admittance.
The bag will identify the patient as a care home resident and should be updated with all the relevant paperwork to ensure a speedy discharge when the time comes.
The initiative was trialled earlier this year and will now be rolled out to all care homes in the borough.
It has been launched by the Bolton Care Home Excellence partnership, which is made up of Bolton Council, Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and care homes in Bolton. Also joining this particular initiative will be North West Ambulance Service.
Bolton Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, Cllr Asif Ibrahim, said: “This is such a simple yet highly effective idea that we hope will improve the experience of a hospital stay for not only our residents, but also the care homes and the hospital staff.
“Being admitted to hospital can often be scary and disorientating for care home residents so by making it as seamless as possible for all concerned is important. On a clinical level, it’s essential that everyone involved in their care has the relevant medication and paperwork associated with the patient. The Red Bag initiative brings everything together to make the process as smooth and as easy as possible.
“It has been successfully running in other areas of the country but we are the first borough in Greater Manchester to join the scheme. We are delighted that all care homes will benefit from the initiative and that communication with relevant agencies will be improved.”
Marie Forshaw, Deputy Director for Bolton NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are delighted that we have a real opportunity to make a difference to the experience of our patients, by making their length of stay shorter and a providing a better discharge experience.
“This initiative also offers us the opportunity to build on our relationship with local care home providers.”
Dr Wirin Bhatiani, Chair of NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “This is a very easy, yet effective idea which can only enhance the care our patients in care homes receive. The CCG fully supports this and we are working in partnership to develop other simple initiatives like this that can make a big difference to patients by improving their safety and experience.”