Specialists in sport medicine and rehabilitation from Sheffield Hallam’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC) are offering online consultations with people from the immediate community who are suffering with Long Covid, to understand more about their individual needs and help support recuperation.
Those living in Darnall, Attercliffe, Carbrook, Tinsley and parts of Handsworth can sign up until the end of April to participate in the virtual clinics, which have been running since March and are funded by Sport England. The project aims to learn from individual experiences to help to inform new ways of working in more marginalised and deprived communities.
Participants identified by DWB are asked to complete two questionnaires which help to identify their wellbeing and level of fatigue, before taking part in three sessions with a doctor and a therapist. The initial focus is on understanding the lived experience of Long Covid, with follow-on advice provided about rest, gentle exercise and planning small changes to improve quality of life. Participants report back on their experiences and engage further with their GP as required.
One participant commented: “After suffering from Long Covid symptoms for months this research study was my first chance to express how I am feeling physically and mentally. The pace of the virtual clinics was very relaxed and I felt able to fully express myself. It was my first positive experience of talking about my health since I started with Long Covid symptoms as I did struggle to get through or get support from my surgery. The pathway - which includes a final letter to me, a letter to my GP if needed and ongoing Darnall Well Being support - gives me hope that I will be able to pull myself through this difficult time.”
The virtual research clinics are part of the RICOVR unit, based at the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre in Attercliffe, which works to provide knowledge and understanding about how people rehabilitate from the effects of Covid-19. The AWRC’s strategic agenda aims to reduce health inequality, improve access to integrated care and provide a voice for people who live and work in the immediate community, particularly those from traditionally marginalised groups.
Dr Sally Fowler-Davis, clinical academic and Long Covid virtual clinics lead at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “This project, which has been funded by Sport England, has allowed us to develop our partnership with DWB and the local community around a very current and important need. Many people in deprived communities have had Covid but have not yet sought help for the fatigue and other problems. This research enables participants to benefit but also help us to understand more about the management of Long Covid in this neighbourhood.”
Darnall Well Being is local community organisation providing health and wellbeing services in one of the most deprived areas of Sheffield – the Darnall ward. Its core remit is to work with the local population to address health inequalities and help people to build resilience and achieve their goals. The organisation celebrated its 20th anniversary last year.
Waqas Hameed, senior health worker at Darnall Well Being, said: “Having continued to work with the local community throughout the pandemic, we were keen to get involved with this research, so that we can help local people who are experiencing Long Covid. Our involvement with AWRC’s research clinic has given us more information and experience to share with the community and help people to access support for Long Covid.
“This research project is an opportunity for Darnall Well Being to proactively support underserved communities in Darnall ward. Outcomes from the research will hopefully inform Darnall Well Being’s post-Covid response in a structured and effective way.”
Long Covid is defined as symptoms lasting greater than 12 weeks. It appears to be a multisystem disease ranging in severity, frequency and duration. Symptoms include extreme tiredness after little activity, fatigue, shortness of breath, muscle weakness, difficulties with concentration or memory, and feeling less able to be physically active.
Whilst the majority of people infected with Covid-19 recover within weeks, it is estimated that one-in-10 experience the persistent symptoms associated as Long Covid, irrespective of age and underlying health conditions. This figure rises to two-in-1p amongst over 65-year-olds.
Those interested in taking part in the virtual research clinics are encouraged to contact Waqas Hameed for an informal chat, on 07825290770 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Participants must be at least 18 years old and live in the Darnall ward to be involved in this research.