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A new report from Healthwatch Gloucestershire looks at the health and social care experiences of people living with long-term health conditions during the Covid-19 pandemic, highlighting common issues to help care providers understand the needs of this particularly vulnerable group of people.

Forty-one Gloucestershire residents shared their views and experiences with Healthwatch Gloucestershire via an online survey, one-to-one interviews, and focus group discussions. Several common issues were identified about how people with long-term conditions have been affected by Covid19.

  • People’s mental health had deteriorated.
  • Staying active in daily life had been particularly challenging.
  • Not seeing friends and family compounded a sense of isolation.
  • Fear of being near other people had affected their confidence to go outside and take part in daily activities.
  • Some regular care and treatments were disrupted as health and community services were suspended or changed, and people were not sure what to expect.
  • Remote health appointments worked well for some people, but others prefer face to face care.
  • Face coverings can be a barrier to effective consultations with health care professionals.

Helen Webb, Healthwatch Gloucestershire Manager said: “People living with long-term health conditions tend to be regular users of health and social care services, so they are particularly vulnerable – to the virus itself and to the disruption it has caused to their everyday life and care. The feedback that we gathered echoes what we hear though our ongoing work. The limitations placed on their lives by the virus and the disruption to their usual care, has compounded their sense of isolation and adversely affected their wellbeing. We have shared our findings with local NHS and care providers to help them understand how to deliver services that support the needs of those with long term conditions.”

Read the full report, Living with a long-term health condition in Covid-19, which includes a response from Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust, and Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.