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Long- Covid and Work

We are increasingly becoming more aware of the long-term, detrimental impact Covid-19 can have on a person’s health. Although there is not a huge amount of current research into Long-Covid yet, as an organization we are seeing an increased number of Long-Covid related referrals. A recent survey of UK works showed that 80% of people who have been diagnosed with Long-Covid said that it had effected their ability to work.

What we do know is that recovery from Covid-19 seems to be unique to each individual and can take anything from a matter of a few days or weeks to recover from. For most, a full recovery will be made within 12 weeks, but for some symptoms could last even longer.

There does not seem to be any correlation between the severity of symptoms and how long it takes to recover. For example, someone could have quite mild symptoms and not be hospitalised but still take a long time to recover. Similarly, it does not seem to only impact people who may have been classed as “vulnerable” or people who may have already had underlying health conditions. Long-Covid seems to impact anyone, including young, healthy people who have no underlying health conditions. This can often come as a shock and for many, symptoms can become difficult to manage but also hard to come to terms with the change in health and ability to do certain activities and tasks.

Common long COVID symptoms include:

  • extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain or tightness
  • problems with memory and concentration (“brain fog”)
  • difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
  • heart palpitations
  • dizziness
  • pins and needles
  • joint pain
  • depression and anxiety
  • tinnitus, earaches
  • feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite
  • a high temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat, changes to sense of smell or taste
  • rashes

Do any of these symptoms sounds familiar to you? We understand that these symptoms can have an impact on a person’s whole life; of course, physical health as symptoms demonstrate above, but also their occupational health, mental health and financial stress. Some people may feel ready to return to work quite quickly where others may not feel fit for work but then feel additional pressures due to the inability to return.

Leading epidemiologist and World Health Organization (WHO) advisor Professor Mary-Louise McLaws called for greater attention to treatments and rehabilitation for ‘long COVID’ patients, flagging it as a major emerging issue in the global fight against the virus. She says, ‘We need to focus on this if we are trying to protect the young and ensure they have a good middle age.’  

This is a difficult time for many, but help is at hand and there is hope with more research going into Long-Covid. Whilst some would say New Zealand have been a leading country in preventing the transmission of Covid-19, there is less evidence in how they treat and support people struggling with Long-Covid as they have not been monitoring its long-term impact as closely. In contrast, Melbourne in Australia seem to be taking action to support people with Long-Covid with a new clinical pathway. This pathway links GPs, hospital physicians and corona virus survivors together to tackle the long-term impact of Covid-19.

Here in Sheffield we have a leading and developed approach to care where primary care, secondary care and the voluntary sector work collaboratively to provide wrap around holistic support, including to those who are impacted by Long-Covid.

We are working with the Long Covid Support Unit who are referring patients who live or work in Sheffield to us. The patients are employed but struggling to return to work after been diagnosed with long covid or are at work but struggling to stay at work.

You don’t have to be in contact to with the long covid support unit to get help, if you meet our criteria, go to our website and use the “ask the expert” tab to get in touch ring us on 0114 2755760.

If you would like some more information on returning to work or an idea of what reasonable adjustments could be make at work in relation to long-covid here is a helpful advice from the NHS: