A LITTLE red bag is helping to make a big difference to vulnerable residents in Bolton.

The town is the first in Greater Manchester to roll out a new scheme for care home residents being admitted to hospital.

The Red Bag Initiative will see 200 bags provided to all 32 care homes in the town and across Bolton NHS Foundation Trust (FT) from Monday.

The distinctive red bags can be easily packed in a hurry and will 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.

It aims to improve the experience of residents when they are admitted, and help reduce their length of stay by speeding up the discharge process and improving communication between hospitals and care homes.

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."

The scheme has been successfully running in other areas of the country but Bolton is the first borough in Greater Manchester to join the scheme.

Each care home will have one bag for every 10 residents. When packed, it will be handed over to ambulance staff and then passed on to hospital staff on admittance.

It will also 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 and has been launched by the Bolton Care Home Excellence partnership.

Bolton NHS FT deputy director Marie Forshaw added: "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."