Rehabilitation is key to recovery – during and after Covid-19

Right now, I’m proud of how CSP members across the UK have stepped up to work very long hours in difficult circumstances and often outside of their comfort zone to deal with the coronavirus.

by Karen Middleton

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Much of this work is providing high quality treatment, care and rehabilitation to those with severe symptoms of Covid-19, primarily in the acute sector.

But I’m also well aware that physiotherapy staff are doing incredible and invaluable work across the entire Covid-19 care pathway, not only in intensive care and acute wards, but also in community settings and people’s homes - providing essential rehabilitation to patients who’ve already been discharged.

As we get through the pandemic we know more and more patients will recover, leave hospital and return to their homes. And when they do, we need to be prepared to help them!

We keep hearing that the battle against Covid-19 will be ‘a marathon and not a sprint’ and this is also true of the recovery of those who’ve been worst affected.

In the coming weeks and months, as the country emerges from this crisis, there will be a ‘tidal wave’ of rehabilitation need.

So community-based rehab will need to be at the core of the UK’s health and social care strategy – and the work of physiotherapists and physiotherapy support workers will be vital!

Those us of us working in physiotherapy are well aware of the long-term impact that all type of injuries and illnesses can have, and Covid-19 is no exception.

We know there will be severe and rippling repercussions on public health, not only for those who have been directly affected but also for the wider population as well.

Vast numbers of non-Covid-19 related treatments and rehab sessions have been postponed, and many people are delaying the treatment they need and waiting for the crisis to pass before they seek medical help.

This is why we've been lobbying the government and raising awareness among the media, to highlight the importance of physiotherapy and rehab, both during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.

We've also produced a policy statement, which calls on system leaders and policy makers to prepare and plan for a rapid rise in rehabilitation need by making access to physiotherapy and community based rehab an essential priority.

And we are continuing to collaborate with an alliance of 25 patient organisations and professional bodies on community rehabilitation to strengthen our voice. 

I believe the word ‘rehab’ needs to be on the lips of every healthcare manager and decision-maker, as they prepare to deal with the long-term after effects of the coronavirus crisis.

Because rehab– in both hospitals and in the community - is critical to keeping the flow of patients moving, freeing up beds and increasing the NHS’s capacity to treat more critically ill patients.

This is why the work of physiotherapy staff is absolutely vital – both on the frontline and beyond.

In hospital, we provide rehab that helps save lives, and after hospital our roles are equally as important. The race isn’t ‘won’ when a patient leaves hospital.

Recovering from Covid-19 isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. And physios know how to help patients win that race, by providing rehab that gets them across the ‘recovery line’ and helps them rebuild their lives.

High quality rehab is good for patients, good for their families, good for the economy and an absolute necessity for this nation’s recovery.

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