The impact of the pandemic has been felt by everyone and led to an increase in feelings of isolation and loneliness, particularly for those suffering from the newly discovered long-Covid. Thanks to the pioneering Hope Programme for Long-Covid, patients living in Coventry and Warwickshire have been able to receive peer support to help manage their condition.
The Hope Programme was co-produced by Hope For The Community CIC and Atrium Health Coventry, with researchers at Coventry University and long-Covid patients.
There is limited professional support available for those suffering from long-Covid, given that it is such a new condition. Patients themselves are therefore required to become the experts and were vital in developing the programme and helping to support their peers.
The Hope Programme enables people to come together in a safe environment and engage in interactive activities. Alongside long-Covid information, it encourages participants to record symptoms and track recovery.
A unique feature of the programme is peer support through interactive forum, discussion topics and newsfeed where people can share, like and support each other on the platform and optional weekly Hope Cafe Zoom sessions to meet together and share experiences.
A pilot Hope Programme finished in November 2021 and has had an undoubtedly positive impact on participants’ wellbeing and management of their long-Covid.
One such participant is Rachel, a school teacher who contracted Covid-19 in December 2020 and was unable to return to work until September 2021 on reduced hours.
Speaking of the weekly Zoom cafes that formed part of the Hope Programme, Rachel said:
“That whole social aspect of Hope was fantastic. Being with other people who really understood the frustration. Being able to connect with them.”
A total of 511 people have benefitted to date with additional support provided through in-person social events and webinars that gave participants and professionals the opportunity to connect and share their experiences, as well as to learn new ways to manage their condition, such as practising positive thinking and gratitude.
The Hope Programme has been robustly evaluated by Coventry University with positive outcomes. Findings from a wait list control trial are due to be published next month.
The Hope Programme for Long-Covid was funded by University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) Charity, thanks to a grant from NHS Charities Together.
Nine more Hope Programme courses for 450 people are scheduled to run locally with additional funding secured from Warwickshire County Council Social Impact Fund to expand the programme offer.
Owing to the programme’s success, Hope For The Community CIC are now extending this support to long-Covid patients living in other regions. Funded by NHS England, 3,000 people living with long-Covid across the Southwest will have access to the free programme from June 2022.
In addition to the development of the long-Covid programme, the NHS Charites Together grant funded delivery of a range of self-management Hope Programmes in the region, making it the first and most comprehensive VCSE-led supported self-management offer in the area.
Hundreds of carers, parents of autistic children, people living with long-term conditions, cancer or multiple sclerosis have benefitted from the free support that will continue until spring 2023. To find out more, please visit https://www.hopecwr.h4c.org.uk/ and https://www.h4c.org.uk/courses, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 024773 601 53.