Allied health professional (AHP) teams across Colchester and Ipswich hospitals, and community sites have worked together with other healthcare organisations to develop dedicated post COVID-19 rehabilitation care
When a patient leaves hospital after being treated for Coronavirus (COVID-19), their recovery does not end there – it is just the beginning.
Some of the effects of the virus are extensive and, in some cases, devastating. It can lead to complex and long-term health issues which a patient needs specialist support to overcome.
At East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), allied health professional (AHP) teams across Colchester and Ipswich hospitals, and community sites have worked together with other healthcare organisations to develop dedicated post COVID-19 rehabilitation care.
It aims to meet the needs of Coronavirus (COVID-19) patients as rehabilitation is essential for so many of them.
AHP strategic lead Penny Cason
The Trust’s AHP strategic lead Penny Cason said: “The needs of our patients post COVID-19 is still an evolving picture, but we know a significant number of people are experiencing respiratory issues, as well as neurological complications and over 70 per cent of people have fatigue and memory loss.
“We need rehabilitation to be the golden thread in our recovery planning to meet these patient’s ongoing needs. Recovery can be so difficult, but we want to empower our patients to manage their symptoms to boost their confidence, so they can see their improvements and return to leading fulfilling lives.”
Integrated Therapies Clinical Leads Louise Kenworthy and Ally Roberts have been collaborating with a team of AHPs from across ESNEFT, the social care sector and Anglian Community Enterprise (ACE) to look at community care in east Suffolk and north Essex and how to support patients once they are at home.
Integrated Therapies Clinical Lead Louise Kenworthy
Louise said: “When patients leave any hospital as an inpatient they will have an assessment by a therapist to assess their needs to ensure they leave hospital on the correct clinical pathway. Once they are at home they have a follow up call with a clinician to re-evaluate and review their progress. Six to eight weeks later patients are then signposted to services that are already out there to avoid any duplication.”
Ally said: “It’s about making sure we provide assessment, treatment and advice to our patients early so there aren’t issues further down the line, improving outcomes for our patients and reducing pressure on other services.
“It’s the diversity of symptoms we are seeing in post COVID-19 patients which is fascinating and makes them a complex group of patients requiring specialist input.”
Penny added: “It’s so individual to each person, there’s no textbook picture and it (COVID-19) doesn’t discriminate.”
Physiotherapists Hannah Linger and Adam Lawrence
Cardiac Rehabilitation Physiotherapist Fiona Sawyer
When patients leave hospital they are also given a booklet to support them and their families as they recover. The booklet was written by AHPs from across east Suffolk and north Essex.
It advises patients on how they can manage ongoing symptoms, including swallowing problems, persistent coughing and breathlessness. It also signposts them to helpful websites and contacts too. You can download the booklet here.
Much of the hard work behind the rehabilitation project has been influenced by a post COVID-19 audit, which all NHS trusts in the East of England took part in. It has enabled teams to look at what the needs of patients are who are recovering from the virus and the information gathered will be fed back across the region.
Louise said: “It’s been a massive team effort. Individuals have come together to work collaboratively, not just in the acute hospitals trust but our partners and colleagues across the Integrated Care System (ICS).
“We don’t see this as a standalone piece of work, it’s all about collaboration and feeding in to a wider rehabilitation programme, which also links into community services too, making sure we have specialists in those services.”
Speech and Language Therapist Rebecca Impson