The Long Covid Project is for people with long-term health conditions who have attended a condition self-management course with the NHS in North Wales. Initially it covered people with Long Covid alone, but due to its success it is now running groups for people with chronic pain and other long-term health conditions.
The Long Covid Project wants to create a space for people with long-term health conditions to meet weekly, share their experiences and support each other. People with long-term health conditions are often isolated and disbelieved. Creating a space that validates their experiences allows them to process the change they have gone through and in some cases create a new self-identity.
The project delivers online in ‘Microsoft Teams’ calls. All participants are from the Betsi Cadwalladr University Health Board (BCUHB) region in North Wales.
Learnings and the future of the Long Covid Project
Our research has found that participants who choose to attend peer support after the self-management course actually continue to improve in their well-being scores and self-reported physical health scores after the course has finished. Peer support has been proved to be an effective method of reducing poor mental health.
This project initially planned to offer six weeks of facilitated groups, with a view to teaching leaders in the groups to run the groups themselves. In theory, these groups would continue after we were no longer there. This proved impossible, as the participants' health meant absences were likely, and the added responsibility of running a group was undesirable. We also noted that well-being scores worsened once participants stopped attending peer support. We adapted to a model where weekly groups are available to everyone who has attended a course on a ‘drop-in’ basis. This ongoing approach creates much more sustainable groups.
Our partners are known as the Educating Peers Program (EPP) or the Expert Patient Program, in BCUHB. Our partners are among the first people in Wales to apply chronic disease self-management to Long Covid. They recently won awards for their co-production of care within this project. Our combined project has been recognised as a Bevan ‘Exemplar’ by the Bevan Commission, Wales’ most prestigious NHS think tank, which fosters innovation in healthcare.
Learn more about our Covid Response Programme
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on the mental health of people all over the country but people who already experience inequality have been far more adversely affected. We have invested in our Covid Response Programme to deliver targeted support for lone parents, refugees, people from Black and minority ethnic communities, and people living with long term health conditions.
Coronavirus and mental health resources
After living in a pandemic for so long, you may be feeling exhausted, fed up, depressed or anxious. Our resources offer helpful tips and advice that we hope will help you, your friends, and your family to look after your mental health.
A-Z Topic: Long-term physical conditions and mental health
Long-term physical conditions such as diabetes, arthritis or asthma can have a significant impact on your mental health. This doesn’t mean mental ill-health is inevitable, though. There is support available, as well as things you can do to help yourself.