Post Covid-19 Syndrome (Long Covid) and Supporting Wellbeing
Alongside the focus on saving lives, narrative is building around the condition known as ‘Long Covid’, in particular its long-term consequences and debilitating effect on an individual’s ability to carry out day to day activities.
It remains unclear as to why people get long Covid and what recovery looks like.
It is important that alongside clinical care, individuals are supported with self-management of the condition, including within the workplace.
What is Post-Covid-19 Syndrome (Long Covid)?
“Signs and symptoms that develop during or following an infection consistent with COVID-19, continue for more than 12 weeks and are not explained by an alternative diagnosis. It usually presents with clusters of symptoms, often overlapping, which can fluctuate and change over time and can affect any system in the body. Post-COVID-19 syndrome may be considered before 12 weeks while the possibility of an alternative underlying disease is also being assessed.” (NICE, October 2020)
What are the symptoms of Post-Covid-19 Syndrome (Long Covid)?
There is not currently an agreed list of symptoms however the most common symptom appears to be fatigue. Other reported symptoms include breathlessness, muscle pains and loss of the ability to think clearly.
How individuals can support their wellbeing during recovery
In addition to the clinical care they will be receiving, individuals can put in place management strategies in their everyday life to help with recovery.
This online rehab service aims to provide personalised support to patients living with long Covid. If individuals have persistent problems because of Covid-19 they may be offered a programme of recovery. This may be a face to face programme or one to follow at home. It is most likely that patients will access this programme through their GP.
This online hub aims to provide support for people with breathing difficulties after Covid-19 whether they were at home, in hospital or in intensive care. Support is also available for carers and respiratory specialists are available on WhatsApp to provide advice on post-Covid-19 breathlessness.
Eating well is important as the body will need energy, protein, vitamins and minerals to help with recovery. Explore these nourishing meal and snack ideas. Alternatively Inox, the University’s own restaurant and event space, often shares delicious recipes that people can create at home. Follow Inox’s Facebook page to see their recipes.
Many individuals recovering from Covid-19 notice changes to their sleep patterns when compared to their sleep routines before they became unwell. For more information on sleep cycles and how to improve sleep visit this webpage.
How to support the wellbeing of individuals who are recovering
People managers and colleagues can play a part in supporting an individual’s emotional and physical recovery including, when appropriate, their return to work.
Whilst there is still research to be done on long term impacts on individuals, you should be supportive of your staff if they are not at full fitness and consider what duties are appropriate for them to carry out. You can seek the support of your HR Services team in planning this.
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Please do signpost colleagues to Health Assured, our Employee Assistance Programme and route to Confidential Staff Counselling (up to 8 sessions with a BACP counsellor).
An individual can call to discuss a specific physical condition and receive support in line with medical information in addition to onward signposting to NHS 111 if applicable. If an individual is concerned about the impact of long Covid on their wellbeing, this impact can be explored in a wider sense to understand what the presenting and underlying concern is (for example low mood or anxiety) so that the most appropriate clinic support can be provided.
HML offer a range of tools and services to support with managing the impact of Covid-19 on an individual’s wellbeing and with supporting a recovery.
The HML Occupational Health Assessment Tool may be helpful for managers to use with individuals who have concerns about returning back to work on campus. The document works through the individuals concerns and can help you make a decision on whether an Occupational Health referral to HML is necessary. Please view the tool here. Please view the guidance here.
When making an HML Occupational Health Referral using the standard template, managers must indicate that Covid-19 is the reason for the referral in the open text box under ‘03 Reason for referral’. This means the clinicians will base their assessment and advice around this.
If you are caring for someone, dedicated information and support is available from CarersUK. Our University is a member of Employers for Carers, Carers UK's business forum. More information is available here.
A number of social forums have begun to be created to enable individuals to share their experiences and support each other through recovery including this Long Covid Support Group.
If you are a manager, visit the University Sickness & Absence Management web pages for further information, guidance and good practice.