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Caring for patients with post–COVID-19 conditions

Providing patient education

Providing patient education

Arrange a time with the patient to discuss:

  • how this health issue intersects with their other personal health history
  • common symptoms they might experience after acute COVID-19
  • how long they might experience symptoms (most likely to resolve within 12 weeks)
  • how to monitor and manage their symptoms at home. Patients can record their symptoms in their ‘My post–COVID-19 symptom diary’ available in the patient resource, Managing post–COVID-19 symptoms
  • symptoms that might require medical care (eg certain new or worsening symptoms) and where to seek care if they experience these symptoms
  • what to expect in the weeks and months following acute COVID-19, including that symptom resolution will be different for each person and that symptoms might fluctuate or change over time
  • supports for lifestyle interventions, such as physical activity, nutrition or counselling, to assist with return to usual activities and management of comorbid physical and mental health conditions
  • vaccination post-infection if they have not already been vaccinated, or are due for a booster dose
  • risks of reinfection and how they can manage this risk. When having these discussions:
  • recognise the patient’s health beliefs
  • it is important to acknowledge that the persons symptoms are real
  • acknowledge the mental health impacts of COVID-19 and the isolation experience, demonstrating empathy
  • tailor the message to fit the patient’s needs, including their English and health literacy
  • ensure you use an accredited interpreter if the patient requires an interpreter
  • ask the patient if they have any specific concerns that they wish to discuss
  • gain an understanding of the patient’s expectations and needs, and develop a decision-making process and management plan together, if required
  • ensure the patient has access to required supports.

Patients might be fearful of stigmatisation of their COVID-19 infection and ongoing symptoms. You can assure your patient that they are no longer infectious after their period of isolation has been completed. It is important to ensure that your patient understands that having some post–COVID-19 symptoms does not mean that they are still infectious. Empower your patient so that they feel comfortable in reassuring their family, friends and employers about this issue, acknowledging that it is natural for people to find these conversations difficult.

Encourage patients and their families to ask questions about post–COVID-19-symptoms. Ensure your patient understands the possible fluctuations in severity and support requirements so that they are fully informed prior to making decisions about their care.

You can share the patient resource, Managing post–COVID-19 symptoms, which includes a symptom diary the patient can fill out and discuss with you during consultations.

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