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Rehabilitation after staying in hospital

If you are being or were treated for coronavirus in hospital, you might be interested in learning about the care you can expect when in the hospital and afterwards. In this section, find out what happens when you leave hospital, what a rehabilitation plan is and how you can prepare for follow up appointments.

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Not everyone will have been in hospital when they had COVID-19. Many people will have been managing their symptoms at home. However, if you have been in hospital, you might find this information useful, as it guides you through what care you can expect.

What will happen when I leave hospital?

Before you’re ready to return home from hospital, your health care team will work with you to make a discharge plan. This will list any help, medicines or equipment you might need to help with your recovery, and how you’ll get these. You might also be contacted by someone once you’ve returned home, to see how you’re getting on. This is a good chance to talk through any extra advice or support you need.

The type of care you get will depend on how unwell you’ve been. It could involve carers coming to your home to help you, or tips on how to get back to normal.

Your initial care plan will last for 6 weeks. If you need care for longer than 6 weeks, you may have to pay for it yourself, if you don’t qualify for free social care. If you’d like more information the care you can expect after staying in hospital, you can find this on the NHS website.

Your doctor should offer you a phone or video appointment 6 weeks after you’ve left hospital, to check how you’re getting on and whether your symptoms have changed.

After you leave hospital, you might be wondering how long it’ll take to get back to normal. This will be different for everyone and it’s important not to rush your recovery.

What will happen if I get a rehabilitation plan

Before you leave hospital, your health care team will do an assessment of your needs. After this, they may put together a rehabilitation plan. A rehabilitation plan will help you to recover your physical and mental health, so you can stay as independent as possible. It will help you return to work, education and help you do your daily activities.

If you’ve been left with breathing problems after COVID-19, you may need pulmonary rehabilitation. Through this, physiotherapists, nurses and occupational therapists will support you with exercises to improve your lung function and information to help you recover.

If your symptoms are having a big impact on your life, you may be referred to a specialist rehabilitation service or a specialist that can help with your specific symptoms. Examples include a physiotherapist, a dietitian, or an occupational therapist. Your rehabilitation plan might involve seeing health care professionals at home or in a clinic or hospital, or having an online programme to follow in your own time.

Medical appointments after being in intensive care

Guidance says that patients who have been in intensive care and been given a rehabilitation plan should have a review with a health care professional two to three months after being discharged from ICU.

This is your chance to talk about how you’re recovering and any worries you have. If your recovery is slower than expected, or you have concerns about your physical or emotional health, your health care professional might refer you to specialist services, like physiotherapy or a mental health team.

Remember, you don’t have to wait for this appointment to discuss any concerns you have about your recovery. You can contact your GP or health care team at any time.

How can I prepare for my follow-up appointments?

It’s important to go to your follow-up appointments, as this will help your recovery. It’s also important to plan what you want to say to your doctor, so you get the most out of your time with them. 

When planning your follow-up care, your doctor will agree with you:

  • how often your follow-up appointments will be
  • which health care professionals should be involved
  • whether these appointments will be face to face or remote
  • whether you need to monitor yourself at home – such as checking your blood pressure or heart rate. 


 Next: What if I don’t have a rehabilitation plan?


We use your comments to improve our information. We cannot reply to comments left on this form. If you have health concerns or need clinical advice, call our helpline on 03000 030 555 between 9am and 5pm on a weekday or email them.

Last medically reviewed: November 2021. Due for review: November 2022

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.