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BPS advises meeting the psychological needs of people recovering from severe Coronavirus is important to promoting recovery

21 April 2020

We have published new guidance outlining how healthcare providers can meet the psychological needs of people who have been hospitalised with severe Coronavirus.

Focusing on patients who are recovering from severe illness but continue to experience significant physical and psychological symptoms, our guidance recommends a three-step approach to support. 

The three steps are: provision of information and psychological care by staff in hospital and early follow-up after hospital discharge, a structured rehabilitation package, integrating psychological aspects with our components, and referral to specialist psychological services if appropriate.

In addition to the challenges any serious illness brings, this guidance highlights some specific aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic which may increase the risks of psychological difficulties:  

  • physical barriers to seeing and communicating with staff due to personal protective equipment.
  • social isolation  as a result of loved ones being unable to visit.
  • common ICU environmental stressors such as noise, alarms, lack of daylight and disruption of patients’ circadian rhythms exacerbated by conditions in ICUs during the Covid-19 crisis.
  • witnessing other patients on ventilators and/or deaths.
  • concerns about effect of lack of staffing and equipment on care.

Based on emerging knowledge and clinical experience during the current pandemic, the guidance also draws on prior research from the SARS and MERS outbreaks, which suggests that psychological consequence was more severe among people who contracted these infections, compared to other critically ill patients.

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