Post hospital care for people recovering from COVID-19

There is growing evidence that people recovering from COVID-19 will need further support once they are out of hospital.

A recent study, published in the European Respiratory Journal, found that some people recovering from COVID-19 struggled with daily activities once they were back home.

The study collected information on people in Italy who received treatment in hospital for COVID-19. A total of 103 patients were assessed once they had returned home. The results found that one third of people scored poorly on a test that looks at how people move from sitting to standing; and almost half the people found basic daily activities, such as getting dressed and preparing a meal, challenging. They also found that almost one fifth were still spending the day in bed.  

New guidance on support in hospital and back at home

To address the issue of post-hospital care for COVID-19 patients, experts from across the world have published new guidance to help support people recovering at home. The recommendations, aimed at healthcare professionals, are based on opinions from leading experts in the field, outlining the best ways to deliver this support.

The recommendations cover the type of assessments people may need while in hospital to look at whether they can manage once they are home. It also covers things people can do at home to improve their symptoms. This includes doing regular daily activities and low/moderate exercise for 6-8 weeks after leaving hospital. The guidance states that people who are still struggling after this time should receive a referral for a formal rehabilitation programme with support from healthcare professionals.  This kind of programme would focus on improving muscle strength, mental health and supporting a person to return to their previous level of activity.

Why is this important?

These kinds of recommendations are usually produced using long-term studies to assess the best methods of offering support to people recovering from a disease. As COVID-19 is a new disease, it is not possible to conduct this kind of study yet. However, the authors believe that recommendations, based on expert opinions, are needed at this time to help the people who are struggling to go back to their normal life during their recovery from the disease.

By following these recommendations and putting a focus on this area of support, the authors hope to assist healthcare professionals working with people recovering from COVID-19.

Read the original research papers

Title: COVID‐19: Interim Guidance on Rehabilitation in the Hospital and Post-Hospital Phase from a European Respiratory Society and American Thoracic Society coordinated International Task Force

Title: Low physical functioning and impaired performance of activities of daily life in COVID-19 patients who survived the hospitalisation