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Long COVID in nurses: the importance of self-awareness. LONG COVID IN NURSING EFFECTS

Updated: Dec 8, 2023


The effects of Long Covid on nurses


During the pandemic, nurses were part of the frontline workforce. They were helping to care for thousands of patients who were affected worst by the disease.


But how has working on the frontline affected nurses? Were they more prone to catching Covid? And what have the last effects been?


Long covid began in Spring 2020, shortly after the pandemic's beginning, defined by people who had contracted Covid 19 and were failing to recover fully.


Since then, there have been varying degrees of long Covid, with some people recovering after a few weeks whilst others have suffered lasting effects for over a year.


Are the risks of catching Covid higher for nurses?


Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Many nurses have been in constant contact with the disease, and at the beginning of the pandemic, shortages in PPE were common.


Studies have shown that nurses are twice as likely to contract Covid 19 great than the general public.


What symptoms of long covid are nurses experiencing?


The main symptoms that nurses experience during long Covid include fatigue, joint pain, and brain fog. These symptoms need constant reviewing and management to help nurses return to work after catching Covid 19.


One study states that only 15% of nurses had been able to return to work full time after experiencing long Covid. Reasons for this include symptom unpredictability and management, job demands, and unhelpful attitudes and expectations from colleagues and management.


With nurses making up the most significant proportion of the healthcare workforce, it has been suggested that long covid needs to be considered an occupational disease to help workers access the help they need to continue working.


Although, at the moment, this suggestion looks unlikely to be made statutory. Nurses who have experienced symptoms for over a year may fit the disability criteria.


It has also suggested that those experiencing long covid due to the first wave of the pandemic and during PPE shortages should receive full sick pay for any absences relating to the illness.



 

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Do nurses feel supported when returning to work?


Some nurses have reported feeling supported when returning to the workplace after experiencing long covid.


This positive support seems to help many nurses feel like a nuisance and that they were not being taken seriously about their conditions. Many thought they needed to return to work before they felt ready, or their job may be in jeopardy.


Many nurses returning to the workplace are still experiencing the effects of long Covid, and support needs to be in place to help them safely return to work.


This support could include

● Shorter shifts

● Reduced responsibilities when experiencing brain fog

● Supportive management

● Supportive mental health services.


It's clear from talking to nurses that more needs to be explored to support those experiencing long Covid, both whilst recovering and returning to the workforce.


Self-reflection:

  1. Have you experienced long Covid? How has this affected you?

  2. When did you know you were ready to return to work?

  3. Did you feel supported when returning to work? What could have been done differently?





● https://ebn.bmj.com/content/24/4/112

● https://qni.org.uk/nursing-in-the-community/long-covid-nurse-group/long-

covid-information-resources/long-covid-research-papers/

● https://www.nursinginpractice.com/analysis/what-now-for-nurses-with-

long-covid/

● https://www.rcn.org.uk/magazines/Clinical/2021/November/Long-COVID-

latest-research-and-clinical-pathways

● https://www.nursingtimes.net/clinical-archive/coronavirus-clinical-

archive/long-covid-3-supporting-nurses-with-long-covid-in-the-workplace-

18-07-2022/


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