With thousands of people still unwell months after contracting coronavirus, how do I support an employee with long covid?
While coronavirus symptoms pass quickly for others, some may suffer the lasting effects of the virus.
With the successful rollout of the vaccination, the link between Covid-19 infections and deaths has significantly weakened.
In this blog, we’ll discuss Long Covid, the symptoms, the lasting effects it can have and how you as the employer can support your employee.
What Is Long Covid?
Long Covid is a term to describe the effects of Covid-19 that continue for weeks or months beyond the initial or supposed illness period.
According to the NHS long Covid is where symptoms last longer than 12 weeks. The chances of having long Covid isn’t determined by how ill you initially was when contracting the virus.
The long-term effects of Covid don’t have to be serious enough to hospitalise you, but they can affect your day to day life. For some, the symptoms may get better and then worse again, the lasting effects include:
- breathlessness or shortness of breath
- difficulty sleeping
- anxiety and depression
- heart palpitations
- chest tightness or pain
- joint or muscle pain
- not being able to think straight or focus (‘brain fog’)
- change to your sense of smell or taste
- persistent cough
How Many People Are Affected By Long Covid?
Gov recently announced the findings of their recent research. Department of Health and Social Care reported over 2 million people in England are thought to have had one or more Covid-19 symptoms lasting at least 12 weeks.
Supporting Your Employees With Long Covid
So, how do I support an employee with Long Covid? Well, It remains too early in the world’s experience of Long Covid to know the average period of absentees. Due to the unknown nature and longevity, there isn’t a one-shoe-fits all solution.
Employers should be aware that the effects of long COVID can come and go. On some days the person might seem well, but on others, their symptoms can be worse, and they might need to be off work again.
If someone is off sick, they might feel isolated or need support to return to work. Employers should:
- Agree how and when to make contact during any absence
- Make sure their work is covered and shared out appropriately while they’re off
- Talk about ways to support them as they return to work where and when possible
There will come a time where your employee feels able to return to work, putting a strategy in place to support them is key for their physical and mental wellbeing. A range of steps and solutions include:
- Reminding employees of the benefits available to them and the support provided
- Adjusting working hours
- Phased returns to work
- Continue homeworking
- Offering Occupational Health support
- Signposting employees to the NHS Post-Covid assessment services
- Putting in place a specialist wellbeing and support service which is tailored to meet the emotional needs of employees suffering from Long Covid
Health advice and support is key to understanding and adjusting accordingly to your employee’s condition.
Employees must be allowed to take their time when returning to work. Have open conversations and don’t put too much pressure on them to return to their normal hours as it could make their situation worsen.
Employers who embrace and encourage their employees to access Long Covid support and wellbeing programmes at the start of their illness, and before the significant deterioration in physical and mental health, are more likely to see a faster return to work in comparison to those who don’t take the illness seriously.
Supporting Your Employees With Long Covid Through Wellspace
Here at Wellspace, we create bespoke health and wellness solutions for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Our innovative employee app and portal allow you to monitor employee wellbeing.
Our Wellness Application allows your employees to track their health and wellbeing, including their sleep, activity levels and mood. Plus, the Online Portal allows you to track employee wellbeing and tailor your activities, health schemes and training based on the needs of your employees.
By reducing stress amongst employees, you will see an improvement in productivity and engagement and a decrease in absenteeism and staff turnover.
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