Supporting People with Long COVID
While most people recover quickly from Covid-19 and get better within 4 weeks, some people may have ongoing symptoms that can last longer, or new health issues which can develop and change over time. This is sometimes referred to as Long Covid although the type of symptoms, their severity and how long they last can vary from person to person. As this is a relatively new condition, understanding is developing all the time and although it is difficult to predict exactly how long coronavirus symptoms will last, the reassuring evidence is that symptoms improve over time in most cases.
Long COVID support advice line
Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland (CHSS) has been funded by the Scottish Government to provide expert advice on how to manage long COVID symptoms such as fatigue and breathlessness. The advice line is staffed by healthcare professionals who can offer practical support for anyone struggling with the long-term effects of Covid-19.
Two community support co-ordinators are able to offer one-to-one and group support, and five healthcare practitioners to offer expert support, advice and reassurance to anyone struggling with the long-term effects of Covid-19.
To contact the advice line:
- Call 0808 801 0899 (FREE from landlines and mobiles)
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Text NURSE to 66777
NHS Forth Valley Services and Support
NHS Forth Valley has a range of services, including our ReACH rehabilitation teams, which are able to provide advice, treatment and support to local people recovering from Covid-19. You can also get support from your local GP practice who are able to refer to specialist health services, if appropriate.
Work is also underway to develop additional local services and support to meet the needs of local people experiencing long term effects of Covid-19 and other long-term conditions. These services and support recognise the complexity and range of symptoms involved and the different needs and experiences of each individual person affected.
A Long Covid oversight group has been established which brings together senior service and clinical leads from across the organisation and is chaired by NHS Forth Valley’s Director of Allied Health Professions (AHPs). It also includes representatives from a local group which supports people with Long Covid who are working with us to help shape future services and support. NHS Forth Valley is represented on a number of national groups working collaboratively with Long Covid Leads and people with lived experience of Long Covid as well as partners in the voluntary sector.
There are plans to recruit a number of staff to develop and coordinate support locally with the aim of improving access and ensure a smooth and joined up approach for local people. These plans, which have been adapted to reflect the developing understanding of Long Covid and the impact of Long Covid symptoms on people’s lives, have also been informed by feedback from local people with lived experience of Long Covid.
They include the recruitment of the following healthcare professionals:
- Long Covid Coordinator to establish connections and networks across the whole healthcare system, establish screening sessions, organise and deliver training and establish support group sessions. They will also access support and skills available in other services including rehabilitation services (ReAch) Occupational Therapy, MSK, pain and psychology services as well as develop proposals to enhance rehabilitation and mental health support for people presenting with Long Covid, informed by local feedback, service evaluation and outcomes.
- Respiratory Physiotherapist to support the management and outcomes for people with respiratory and breathing symptoms associated with Long Covid in the first instance with the potential to extend this to support people presenting with similar symptoms related to other long-term health conditions.
- Clinical Associate in Applied Psychology (CAAP) as well as provide additional psychology support. This would support the delivery of one to one and group psychological support to help people manage ongoing physical and mental health symptoms including anxiety and depression. Additional support could be provided by the Cossette service (for people who have been hospitalised with Covid-19 and may have experienced considerable psychological trauma and have a range of associated mental health needs).
- Funding additional specialist support to support nutrition, taste and weight loss issues.
- Creating a single point of access into a Long Covid screening clinic to make it easier for healthcare professionals to refer local patients who may require support . This will include options for supported self-management, signposting to existing services and resources and support group sessions for management of respiratory, fatigue, cognitive, taste and weight loss issues.
- Linking with other services including pain management clinics and community-based services and support groups such as leisure services and Primary Care Mental Health link workers.
It is also anticipated that, in future, people presenting with other conditions with similar symptoms could also benefit from the screening and support sessions being established.
The University of Stirling has also created a range of online resources to improve understanding of what it is like to live with Long Covid and highlight support and care for those experiencing symptoms. The resources include videos, audio and written extracts from interviews with people living with Long Covid and cover topics like how to manage the condition, impacts on family, work and social life, financial impact, medicines and therapies.