Employment law

Employers need to offer physical and mental support for Long Covid

Praseeda Nair | 1 December 2020 | 3 years ago

Long Covid
“For an unfortunate few, Long Covid is serious and potentially life-threatening but for most, it is likely to be a long-term chronic condition that could prevent them returning to their working life or normal activities for some time.”

Employers wishing to minimise the impact of Long Covid on both their employees and their organisation, should ensure that their health and wellbeing programmes include holistic and personalised support for staff for as long as they need it, according to RedArc MD.

Long Covid, a condition currently affecting approximately 60, 000 people in the UK which will inevitably continue to rise – and characterised by a variety of physiological and psychological issues, including fatigue, breathlessness, cognitive blunting (brain fog?) and pain, requires practical, medical and emotional support, similar to that already offered by employers for conditions such as cancer, ME and diabetes.

this is clearly an emerging situation and one which is likely to be challenging for employers, in terms of providing support for those with this new relatively unknown condition and its long-term implications, ” Christine Husbands, managing director for RedArc, said.

“Offering practical help and emotional support for those diagnosed with the condition will help ensure that staff receive the most appropriate course of treatment, helping to steer them back on the path to recovery.

Types of support

As well as the known physical ailments associated with Long Covid, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), has raised concerns about the potentially huge psychological impact of the condition which includes patients suffering from post-intensive-care syndrome and post-viral fatigue syndrome.

Therefore, support provided by employers needs to be holistic, combiningpractical advice to manage the varying physical symptoms, ‘signposting to appropriate NHS medical care and services, and timely provision of relevant therapies as well as emotional support to deal with the psychological impact.

Some examples of specific external interventions are:

  • Respiratory physiotherapy – breathing exercises/techniques
  • Occupational therapy – pacing to manage fatigue and help with memory problems
  • Complementary therapy – to aid sleep and reduce stress
  • Talking therapies – to help with fear, anxiety and low mood and other psychological impacts
  • Physiotherapy – post Covid musculoskeletal pain

As the symptoms are variable and fluctuating, any care and support needs to be tailored to the employee’s specific needs at that particular time with the flexibility to adapt as necessary.

the need for emotional support cannot be underestimated, particularly in these times when social interaction is so limited. The ability to rely on close family, friends or work colleagues for support during times of ill health has been taken away from many people, leaving them to cope with their symptoms in isolation and in desperate need of human support.

Many employers already have relevant support in place

In the paper?long Covid?: evidence, recommendations and priority research?*authored by doctors from Oxford University and Royal Berkshire Hospital, recommendations were made for a four-tier clinical service to be developed for Long Covid patients. The recommendations ranged from tier one support which was mainly focussed on resources and support for self-care, through to community-based interdisciplinary rehabilitation in tier two, and specialist management of specific conditions in tier four.

Many employers already have this layered approach to support in place for other conditions via health and wellbeing benefits including protection insurance, group insurance or PMI, and so it may be that employers simply now need to communicate the availability of this added-value service to their staff.

?it’s true to say that for an unfortunate few, Long Covid is serious and potentially life-threatening but for most, it is likely to be a long-term chronic condition that could prevent them returning to their working life or normal activities for some time.”

if in doubt, employers should speak to their insurer, employee benefits consultant or adviser so get a better understanding of what, if any, support is already included within their current employee benefits packages.” Husbands added. “Those employers who encourage their employees to access a Long Covid support programme at the start of their illness and prior to a significant deterioration in their physical or mental health, are likely to see a faster return to normal modus operandI than those who don’t take the impact of Long Covid seriously.

Related Topics

Zero Hours Contracts Holiday Pay & Holiday Entitlement Explained
25 April 2022

Zero Hours Contracts Holiday Pay & Holiday Entitlement Explained

Read More →
What You Need to Consider When Changing An Employee’s Contract
4 March 2022

What You Need to Consider When Changing An Employee’s Contract

Read More →
Can You Dismiss A Pregnant Employee?
7 January 2022

Can You Dismiss A Pregnant Employee?

Read More →
How employment law affects an organisations HR and business policies and practices
21 July 2021

How employment law affects an organisations HR and business policies and practices

Read More →
The ultimate guide to holiday leave and pay in the UK
19 April 2021

The ultimate guide to holiday leave and pay in the UK

Read More →
Employing self-employed staff?
18 March 2021

Employing self-employed staff?

Read More →

If you enjoy reading our articles,
why not sign up for our newsletter?

We commit to just delivering high-quality material that is specially crafted for our audience.

Join Our Newsletter