Long Covid patient’s life ‘unrecognisable’ as she calls for more support for sufferers

A former nurse living with Long Covid has opened up about her experience

Two pictures of Rebecca Logan before and after having Covid-19. The left picture is of Rebecca Logan working as an NHS nurse with a mask and NHS lanyard. The photo to the right is one of her on a wheel chair with a dog in a park.
Rebecca Logan before and after having Covid-19.

Rebecca Logan, a mother of two from Dundonald, found her life becoming “unrecognisable” after she was diagnosed with Covid-19 in 2020. At 43 years of age, she is now housebound by the condition.

Previously working long hours in a hospital Emergency Department and running 14 fitness classes a week, Ms Logan now feels isolated and lonely as she struggles with the symptoms of Long Covid. She lost her nursing registration and suffers daily with symptoms such as crippling fatigue, body pain, brain fog and cognitive disfunction. She is registered as disabled and uses a wheelchair and says she believes there is not enough help for those with Long Covid.

Woman standing in front of her fitness class
Rebecca Logan running her fitness class before she had Covid-19.

“The government just seem to be dismissing it and not wanting to address the fact that there are hundreds and thousands of people in Ireland and Northern Ireland who are unable to work because of Long Covid,” she said.

Ms Logan attended the South Eastern Trust’s virtual Long Covid Clinic in 2022. The initial consultation took an hour and a half and she felt this was “totally unachievable” for someone who was severely unwell.

Rebecca Logan lying in bed, homebound by Long-Covid
Rebecca Logan is housebound due to Long Covid

Ms Logan said she is not alone in her experience. Since speaking out in the early days of the pandemic, several people have messaged her about their experiences.

She feels she has not been properly listened to as as a sufferer of Long Covid and feels “totally disheartened by the health service”.

She currently attends physiotherapy but has no direct treatment for Long Covid.

Advocating for other people in the same situation comes at a cost, but she wants to speak out for those who cannot.

“You’re very unwell yourself… using that energy to advocate on social media platforms like Twitter, you’re putting yourself out there and you’re putting yourself in the line of fire from trolls and people who don’t believe that Covid exists.

“After Long Covid Awareness Day my daughters came home from school and I was sitting in tears because of the comments underneath one of my posts. You just feel like you can’t win but the only way to get awareness out there is by using those platforms.”

Raising awareness of Long Covid

Rebecca feels strongly that awareness needs to be raised about Long Covid.

“There seems to be a poor attitude… people don’t seem to want to remember the pandemic, address the fact that Covid is still out there and can still disable people, or that there are so many people with Long Covid that are just left to rot at home.”

She is motivated to speak out on behalf of others.

“I feel like they need represented and they need remembered. I’m fortunate enough that I have a husband who can help me with those things [like daily tasks] but I’m aware that there’s a lot of people who don’t have that support network and are afraid to advocate because their families don’t believe them. I feel so passionately that we have been abandoned by everybody.”

In a message to the government, Ms Logan said: “I would like to say that there are hundreds and thousands of us who are desperate to get our old lives back, but we can’t possibly do that at this time because there is just no support, recognition or adequate services out there for us to attend or avail. How much longer do they expect us to wait or is it just that we’re never going to get any help or acknowledgement?”

Selfie of Rebecca Logan in a green top.
Rebecca Logan

Regarding the future, she said: “I can’t think to the future because I just take it day by day and sometimes it’s hour by hour. I can’t make plans because I don’t know how I’m going to be and actually it terrifies me that this could be my life for the rest of my life. I’m only 43 and I just feel like is this it? Because it’s not how I imagined my life would be and you just don’t know anything. I know things happen randomly but I feel like this could’ve been prevented.”

The South Eastern HSC Trust said it cannot comment on individual cases but would be happy to meet patients to discuss their concerns. It said the Post Covid Syndrome (PCS) Service is a multi-disciplinary assessment service staffed by occupational therapists which provides assessment, education, support and onward referral to relevant services.

The trust said those referred to this service should have other possible causes for their symptoms investigated by the referring clinician, prior to making a referral.

“Clinicians within the PCS Service undertake an assessment and discuss with patients the best way to manage their symptoms. The service may also send patients for more tests if needed or refer onwards for further investigations, if appropriate.”

Regarding services available for Long Covid patients, the Health Department set out six strands of services for people living with the condition.

  • Strand One – patients are referred to a ‘one-stop-shop’ MDT assessment service. Patients receive an holistic assessment and may be referred on to more services or self-management resources
  • Strand Two - the bespoke pulmonary rehabilitation/dysfunctional breathing service to patients with significant respiratory symptoms post-Covid-19. Ms Logan was deemed too unwell to do this stage
  • Strand Three - focuses on how a patient is discharged from critical care
  • Strands Four, Five and Six - focus on supporting patients’ mental and physical health plus diet.

In response to a question from TUV North Antrim Assembly member Jim Allister regarding the funding provision for Long Covid sufferers, Health Minister Robin Swann said his department’s planning assumption “is that the same level of funding that was provided in 2023/24 will be available in the next financial year”.

“However, this is subject to budget availability which is yet to be confirmed,” he added.

The minister said his department was working with the Public Health Agency on a review of Long Covid services.