If health and safety professionals were in any doubt about it, it’s clear that the long-term effects of COVID-19 will be felt and discussed for many years to come, with many employees still feeling the daily effects, due to what is known as “Long Covid.”
A recent Office of National Statistics study indicates that over one-fifth of those diagnosed with COVID-19 are still suffering the ‘long’ symptoms for the following five weeks, while one-in-ten presented symptoms that lasted for three months or longer.
But what is ‘long COVID?
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) identifies Long COVID as lasting for a duration longer than 12 weeks. The Guardian recently estimated that 376,000 people in the UK have been suffering from Long Covid for more than a year, with older patients, women, those with underlying health conditions and those in their 40-50s most likely affected. Symptoms can include:
- Fatigue, or extreme tiredness
- Breathlessness and difficulty in breathing
- Racing pulse
- Joint and muscle pain
- Loss of taste or smell
- Nausea and vomiting
- Prolonged fever
- “Brain fog” – not being able to concentrate or think clearly
Managing employees with Long Covid
While most natural reactions would be to isolate and encourage Long COVID sufferers to work from home, it is not infectious. The reintroduction of these employees to a stable workplace may in fact aid some of the mental issues caused by Long COVID, including depression and loneliness.
In certain circumstances, a healthcare package or offering for staff is key. Private healthcare options can provide employees with access to healthcare, both physically and mentally to help manage their symptoms. Provision will also give staff a higher level of satisfaction, even if only they appreciate the feeling of being able to access help voluntarily.
The camaraderie and support through the initial months of the pandemic was crucial, and employers should continue to foster this spirit adequately in order to support staff and colleagues affected by changes to their working patterns.
Wellbeing is an important part of the Long COVID journey. It impacts all pillars of health from mental, social, physical and financial. The expert team at hero can help you to create a COVID recovery package that will help and support you and your teams effectively manage this area. For more information please get in touch with hero.