Grantham man with post-Covid syndrome praises rehabilitation service
A Grantham man says he is recovering from post-Covid syndrome thanks to a rehabilitation service.
Bill Lord, 50, tested postive for Covid in early July 2021 and has benefited from the specialist post-Covid fatigue service provided by Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust (LCHS).
People like Bill with post-Covid syndrome have been helped by a number of resources, including the Lincolnshire Post-Covid Rehabilitation Service.
Bill has been suffering from ongoing fatigue, breathlessness, cognitive impairment, headaches, food sensitivity and dermatological changes. Such has his impairment been that he is currently unable to return to his job as a headteacher.
Bill said: “I tested positive for COVID-19 in early July 2021 and at first I wasn’t too unwell and managed to work from home during my 10 days isolation. However, the fatigue worsened soon after and I found I was able to do less and less."
The rehabilitation service, which was established in December 2020, has already supported 940 referrals – men, women and children – and is currently treating 425 people.
More commonly known to the public as Long Covid, post-Covid syndrome can surface in many guises with patients noting symptoms as diverse as lasting cough, breathlessness, continued weight loss, muscle pain, extreme fatigue, brain fog, cognitive changes, and even skin concerns, amongst others.
For many it has had severely debilitating after effects and recovery for each person varies considerably, making it a complex and often lengthy condition to treat.
Bill went on to explain: “Over the summer my symptoms improved, and energy levels returned but this was short-lived and by September my condition had deteriorated to worse than it was in July. Activities like a long drive, would wear me out, I became breathless and had real brain fog. After being a healthy, active and busy person all my life, this was very difficult.”
Bill went to see his local GP who assessed him and made a referral to the specialist post-Covid fatigue service and he was enrolled on a seven-week comprehensive rehabilitation programme along with a group of post-Covid individuals.
He received rehabilitation from the specialist occupational therapist including sleep and energy management, restorative rest and restorative movement strategies, gut health, managing the stress system and improving and building up physical and cognitive functioning.
Bill adds: “One of the biggest things for me in this process has been actually understanding and recognising the symptoms I was experiencing. At times, I would have difficulty with word finding and would repeat things I had said. It was reassuring and gave me a feeling of being proactive once I was enrolled on the programme and gave me hope that I would feel better.”
He is now beginning to see significant improvements and finds the daily plan of action set out by the team helpful for him to manage his daily routines and set clear goals and boundaries on what he can undertake each day. Recovery will take time, but Bill has entered a much more positive phase and hopes with time to return to work and be active again.
“This service has been crucial for my recovery and it is something that many people can benefit from”, he confirms. “I found the whole process easy to arrange. My GP referred me for the service, I was assessed on how I was feeling and whether I could cope with the programme, and once I felt well enough to do so, it began.
“I am in a Whatsapp group along with the other patients on my programme and this is really helpful, too – likeminded people who you can chat to and work through recovery with. If you are struggling, seek help, the programme really will help your recovery.”
The Lincolnshire Post-Covid Rehabilitation Service brings together a number of existing services into a programme that can support each patient in a way that is formulated for the needs of each individual.
The LCHS staff involved in the service include physiotherapists, a specialist occupational therapist, a specialist cardiac nurse, a GP, therapy assistants and administration staff who all work alongside a wider multi-disciplinary team.
Josh Shaw, an LCHS physiotherapist who leads the service said: “We’re committed to finding the most appropriate treatment for patients and there are a wide range of symptoms associated with the long-term effects of Covid-19.
“We are generally finding that people are getting better over time with the support of this service and eventually returning to normal activities and work.”
Some of the resources involved include a specialist post-Covid fatigue service with a fatigue management rehabilitation programme and steps2change, which can help with anxiety, low mood and post-traumatic stress disorder. There are also speech and language therapists for issues with swallowing and voice changes.
Patients have a personalised care plan, which is updated and adapted according to their current symptoms and needs. Some of this is delivered virtually and some is delivered face-to-face. The team are also using rehabilitation apps that help patients to take a proactive approach to their rehab and virtual monitoring.
For patients across Lincolnshire, this service is giving hope to those who had been suffering with unexplained symptoms over a period of time, often causing disruption to their personal and professional lives, and in some case emotional and mental anguish.
People suffering from symptoms of Covid-19 for more than four weeks are advised to contact their GP to discuss their concerns for a referral to the Lincolnshire Post-COVID Rehabilitation Service.
There is also information on spotting symptoms on the NHS Covid Recovery website: https://www.yourcovidrecovery.nhs.uk/