Research stories

Ground breaking online COVID-19 rehab service launched

Professor Sally Singh, Head of Pulmonary and Cardiac Rehabilitation at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, and University of Leicester is leading a team to develop the new ‘Your COVID Recovery’ on-demand rehabilitation service.

Tens of thousands of people across the UK are suffering from the long-term affect of the coronavirus on their physical and mental health.  ‘Your COVID Recovery’ service will be available to services across England offering a COVID-19 recovery programme for those of people who have survived the virus but still have problems with breathing, mental health problems or other complications.

The site will have two phases, the first phase will be available to all, and will comprise information that will help people and their families (carers) understand their symptoms and support recovery. Where patients don’t already have access to a suitable device to use the online platform, printed materials will be available to ensure the service is accessible to all.

Phase two, is being developed specifically for people that have prolonged symptoms.  Patients who will have access to a face-to-face consultation with their local rehabilitation team that usually consist of a multi-disciplinary team. Following this initial assessment, to understand the symptom burden, individuals will be offered a personalised package of online-based care lasting up to 12 weeks. The programme will include:

  • A personalised package of care based upon individual symptoms and what is important to the individual.
  • Access to a local clinical team including nurses and physiotherapists who can respond either online to enquiries from patients
  • An online peer-support community for survivors – particularly helpful for those who may be recovering at home alone
  • A programme to support people can do from home to help them regain their previous levels of fitness and muscle strength.
  • Mental health support, which will include advise on symptoms of low mood, fears and frustration and problems with memory and thinking.

Rehabilitation professionals will be able to access their patient’s data to enable remote care and monitoring, ensuring that anyone who might need further face-to-face checks or treatment can get it.

Professor Singh’s research specialisms include pulmonary rehabilitation and digital interventions to support rehabilitation and recovery for individuals with chronic lung disease. Alongside the team from University Hospitals of Leicester NHS, Professor Singh has been working with national clinical leaders to build the ground-breaking ‘Your COVID Recovery’ online service and is now working with the NHS nationally to roll it out across the country.

Professor Singh said: “We know the impact of COVID-19 on people can be far reaching and complex, ‘Your COVID Recovery’ is specifically designed to support people in their recovery post-coronavirus, this will be one of the first services in the world rolled out nationally which seeks to address potential post-COVID-19 symptoms and support people on the road to recovery.

“We have brought together a wide range of experts representing a number of professional societies who have made valuable contributions to the site, to allow us to have a comprehensive package of information and advice. Importantly we have worked with people with first-hand experience of COVID-19 to help shape the site and make sure the content was fit for purpose.”

Professor Singh has received research funding to understand the acceptability of manual and digital interventions for patient groups who are unable to visit medical centres for face-to-face care. In addition she has NIHR funding to exploring culturally appropriate rehabilitation interventions for chronic lung disease with partners in low and middle-income countries - Uganda, Malawi, India, Sri Lanka and Kyrgyzstan (Global RECHARGE).

As well as being a member of the World Health Organisation’s Development Group for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) rehabilitation programme, Professor Singh is the clinical lead for the National Asthma and COPD Audit Programme and the British Thoracic Society’s survey of health care professionals’ opinions of the role and adaptations required for pulmonary rehabilitation for COVID-19 patients.

Professor Singh has also been awarded NHS-E funding to develop a post-COVID-19 digital recovery programme and is leading the British Thoracic Society’s guidance for pulmonary rehabilitation.

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