Policy briefing

Managing recovery from COVID-19

A service to aid recovery from the long-term effects of COVID-19 will offer personalised, online-based aftercare

A service to aid recovery from the long-term effects of COVID-19 will offer personalised, online-based aftercare

Picture: iStock

Essential information

More than 320,000 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in the UK as of late August 2020 .

Evidence shows that a significant proportion of patients recovering from COVID-19 are likely to have ongoing health problems, notably respiratory difficulties, reduced muscle function and fatigue, as well as mental health problems including reduced mood and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Visit our COVID-19 resource centre

Preliminary

A service to aid recovery from the long-term effects of COVID-19 will offer personalised, online-based aftercare

Picture: iStock

Essential information

More than 320,000 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in the UK as of late August 2020.

Evidence shows that a significant proportion of patients recovering from COVID-19 are likely to have ongoing health problems, notably respiratory difficulties, reduced muscle function and fatigue, as well as mental health problems including reduced mood and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Visit our COVID-19 resource centre

Preliminary results of North Bristol NHS Trust’s Discover project, which is studying the longer-term effects of coronavirus – so-called long COVID – found people were still experiencing after-effects three months after leaving hospital.

Some 81 out of 110 patients discharged from Southmead Hospital in Bristol were still experiencing symptoms such as breathlessness, excessive fatigue and muscle aches when invited back to clinic, researchers found.

What’s new?

In July, NHS England launched the first phase of a COVID-19 rehab service, called Your COVID Recovery, for those who have survived the virus but still have problems with their physical and mental health.

The service is designed to aid recovery from the long-term effects of COVID-19 and support people to manage their recovery at home.

The first phase to go live is a website that signposts advice on recovering from the virus, including managing fear, anxiety and low mood. It also includes information for family, friends and carers of people who are recovering.

The second phase, due to be launched in the coming months, will give people access to a face-to-face consultation with their local rehabilitation team, usually comprising nurses, physiotherapists and mental health specialists.

Following this initial assessment, those who need it will be offered a personalised package of online-based aftercare lasting up to 12 weeks. This may include:

  • Access to a local clinical team including nurses and physiotherapists online or by phone.
  • Mental health support, which may include a referral into NHS mental health services along with information on what to expect post-COVID.
  • An online peer-support community for survivors.
  • Exercise tutorials that people can do from home to help them regain muscle strength and lung function.

Expert comment

Sally Singh, head of pulmonary and cardiac rehabilitation at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS TrustSally Singh, head of pulmonary and cardiac rehabilitation at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, is helping to roll out My COVID Recovery across the country

‘We know the impact of COVID on people can be far-reaching and complex.

Your COVID Recovery is specifically designed to support people in their recovery post-coronavirus. This will be one of the first sites in the world rolled out nationally seeking to address potential post-COVID symptoms and support people on the road to recovery.

‘We have brought together a wide range of experts representing a number of professional societies who have made valuable contributions to the site, to allow us to have a comprehensive package of information and advice.

‘Importantly, we have worked with people with first-hand experience of COVID to help shape the site and make sure the content is fit for purpose.’

Key points for nurses

  • Some patients will need further medical follow-up after COVID. People who were admitted to hospital with COVID will likely be followed up by the hospital either by phone or in a face-to-face review.
  • Follow-up arrangements should be clear in the discharge summary letter given to the patient or sent to their GP.
  • Patients who were treated in an ICU may also be followed up by the ICU team, along with other teams. Bear in mind that patients may not yet have heard about follow-up, as services are rapidly being put in place.
  • While the Your COVID Recovery website is open to all, patients will require a referral from a health professional for the initial assessment part of the programme, once this is launched.

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