Patients with Long-COVID are working in partnership with the Health Board to help shape future services for people with the condition.
The symptoms of Long-COVID are wide-ranging and fluctuating and can include, but are not limited to pain, breathlessness, fatigue, brain fog, anxiety and stress. While many patients recover with self-management and rest, some experience debilitating symptoms for many months and require more comprehensive support to aid their recovery.
Claire Jones, Advanced Physiotherapy Practitioner, has recently been appointed as Therapy Lead for Long-COVID for the Health Board and is working with the Long Recovery Programme Group established to help shape the new service.
She said: “Our vision is to create a multi-disciplinary team of health professionals who can offer comprehensive assessment and case management support for those suffering with Long-COVID.
“We recognise that the wide-ranging symptom presentation of Long-COVID means that the needs of patients is varied, and will sometimes require intervention from several specialist services. We will collaborate with existing services to ensure patients receive co-ordinated care which is tailored to individual needs.”
Rev Hywel Edwards, from Bala, who caught the virus in March 2020, and who is still feeling the impact of Long-COVID, is working with the group to help shape the plans to help others with the condition.
He said: “My recovery following contracting COVID-19 has been very slow, the impact on my life has been quite significant.
“I was very unwell at the time I had the virus but my recovery has been very slow, with symptoms that come and go over time.
“I was always a big reader but now I struggle to read properly and struggle to concentrate.
“I’m pleased to be part of a group that is looking at what services need to be in place for people like myself. There is still a lot to learn about the long-term impact of the virus, the symptoms are so broad and lots of organs can be affected.”
The Health Board has also established the first Long-COVID Education Programme in the UK that is educating patients to self-manage their symptoms and minimising the effect on their lives.
Adrian Thomas, Executive Director for Therapies and Health Sciences at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, said: “The longer-term damage of COVID-19 is only slowly being understood and it is likely that the impact of the pandemic will remain with us for some time after the virus has been brought under control.
“In response to this the Health Board have established a Long-COVID Recovery Programme to establish care pathways for patients with long-term chronic conditions arising from COVID-19.
“We are also pleased to be working with our former patients and members of the public who are experiencing the impact of Long-COVID to find new ways to help those affected by it. There is still a lot to learn about its long-term effects that we know can be debilitating, even for young, fit people, or those who did not go to hospital.”
A range of information and support can be found on our website: Long COVID - Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (nhs.wales)