Rehabilitation specialists, Working to Wellbeing is looking to partner with intermediaries to roll out its Long Covid work support service to small businesses.
This is a personalised service integrating physical and psychological expertise, with a specific focus on return to function and return to work.
The service is available on a pay-as-you-go basis to businesses of all sizes. Working to Wellbeing says they are well placed to partner with intermediaries, helping them reach the SME market. It says this will create a “door-opening opportunity” that will help employers meet immediate needs and provide an introduction to wider wellbeing opportunities over time.
Many of these SMEs are less likely to have support available through other products, such as group income protection.
The service is delivered virtually by clinicians. Working To Wellbeing also helps employers make better use of any existing employee benefits and services an employee might have access to, where relevant – for Long Covid or any long-term condition – with a view to improving efficiencies and reducing wellbeing inequalities.
By also helping to better integrate existing benefits and services, Working To Wellbeing says that it can help encourage improved partnership working across various stakeholders: HR, occupational health, health & safety, insurers and intermediaries.
Working To Wellbeing’s Long Covid work support services are tailored to individual requirements and typically include:
- Individual consultation by expert clinicians who have a solid understanding of the bio-occupational-psycho-social (BOPS) approach.
- Development of a Wellbeing Action Plan, which might include one-to-one support from experts in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), psychology, physiotherapy, occupational therapy.
- Signposting to other benefits and services the employer provides, where relevant.
- Training (i.e. Line Manager training in listening / communication skills)
- Vocational rehabilitation / return to work support.
There is no universally agreed definition of Long Covid, but it covers a broad range of symptoms such as fatigue, muscle pain, and difficulty concentrating.
According to a recent report from the Office for National Statistics, an estimated 1.1 million people in the UK reported experiencing Long Covid symptoms in March 2021. Among a sample of over 20,000 participants who tested positive for Covid-19 between 26 April 2020 and 6 March 2021, over 1 in 10 (13.7 per cent) continued to experience symptoms for at least 12 weeks.
National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines indicate that referral into the NHS for multi-disciplinary assessment via the NHS’ recently commissioned specialist clinics is from 12 weeks onwards.
Working to Wellbeing managing director Julie Denning, who is also a chartered health psychologist says: “We would strongly advise employers provide Long Covid support to employees as early as possible to help improve the effectiveness of interventions and reduce the chances of long-term absence or presenteeism.
“There is currently a void in public services; a void that employers can help fill – for the benefit of their employees and their businesses. Even where NHS primary and secondary care is accessed, it should be borne in mind that GPs and healthcare specialists do not regularly factor in work-ability. And the true extent of the problem on people and business is probably being masked right now by furlough, shielding and working from home.
“At Working To Wellbeing, we are unique in providing a fully integrated service and have been delivering on a remote basis for almost a decade. From line manager training, risk assessment – at home or on site – and keeping people well with a view to improving Covid-19 risk factors, to providing personalised support when sick to return to life- and work-ability.”