Reducing Demand on Secondary Care

In line with our Connecting Care+ vision, we focus on caring for people as close to home, and out of hospital where possible. A number of unique initiatives which were originally rolled-out through the vanguard have supported this approach.

Red Bag

The Red Bag is a hospital transfer initiative designed to support care homes, ambulance services and local hospitals to improve and speed up transfers in and out of hospital for care home residents.


Originally launched in Sutton Homes of Care Vanguard, the scheme aims to standardise handover processes and tackle previous problems experienced by care home staff, ambulance crews and hospital staff, ensuring smoother communications between care homes and hospitals so residents are discharged from hospital as soon as they are able.


Funded by Age UK Wakefield and District and developed in partnership with NHS Wakefield CCG, care home managers, Yorkshire Ambulance Service and the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, the Red Bag initiative launched on the 1st of May 2017 in Wakefield. Since its launch, the Red Bag has helped to reduce the number of calls to and from Wakefield care homes to Pinderfields and Pontefract hospitals and has received praise from care home managers who have used it.


Following the successful pilot in the 15 Wakefield care homes, the Red Bag hospital transfer initiative was rolled-out in a phased approach from December 2017 across all Wakefield residential and nursing homes which accommodate residents aged 65 and over.


The wider roll-out of the Red Bag has further seen care homes utilising luggage tags featuring the “Forget Me Not” flower. The tags can be attached to the Red Bags, to help identify and provide improved support for dementia patients when they are admitted to hospital. There is also a window sticker for care homes to promote the red bag scheme to families, carers and visitors to their home.




Care Home Capacity Web Portal

During November and December 2017, Wakefield launched a new Care Home Capacity Web Portal, which enables care homes to share their bed vacancies with local hospital discharge teams, social care teams and others at the touch of a button.


The portal, which is free to all, is designed to minimise delayed transfers of care and enables users to instantly search for available nursing and residential beds across Wakefield, without having to call numerous homes – which can frequently be the case.


When using the new portal, care homes are required to update their availability as soon as there is a change in the number of vacant beds. As a result, the displayed information will be as near to real-time as possible. Care homes can also publish important operational messages, such as information about temporary closures.


The portal has already been used successfully in Manchester and South Yorkshire, and will eventually be rolled out across the whole of the Wakefield district. The roll-out occured in a phased approach, beginning with those care homes which are part of the Enhanced Health in Care Homes Vanguard, and now including the Intermediate Care Beds and under 65 care homes.


Benefits of the tool:

  • Helps care homes fill vacant beds
  • Prevents users having to make numerous calls to care homes to find a vacancy
  • Helps minimise delayed transfers of care
  • Prevents paper vacancy reporting which can be time consuming and inefficient.



Airedale Telemedicine

In June 2017, three Wakefield care homes, which were part of the vanguard, were selected to trial the Airedale NHS Foundation Trust (ANHSFT) Telemedicine system to reduce GP and ambulance call-outs.


The Telemedicine system is part of a range of digital healthcare services offered by ANHSFT and provides 24/7 remote video consultations between healthcare professionals and patients within the care homes. It focuses on reducing unnecessary GP and ambulance call-outs, patients’ lengths of stay in hospital whilst also supporting care outside hospital, including early discharge.


The three care homes were chosen to trial the system due to their high number of ambulance call-outs, with staff within the care homes receiving training from the Airedale Telemedicine team.


A successful six month trial of the system saw 90% of residents, who placed a call to the digital care hub, remaining in their place of residence. In December 2017 alone, 79 calls were received from the Wakefield care homes trialling the system. 23 of these calls were initial consultations, four follow ups and 52 GP Triage calls. The outcome of the calls was recorded as 73 patients remaining in their place of residence & only six ambulances being called to assess.


Further care homes within the vanguard were chosen to pilot the system from January 2018.