Since its launch in November 2021, the programme has helped patients cope with the symptoms of Long Covid and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression

Welsh National Opera (WNO) has today announced the expansion of its Long Covid rehabilitation programme. Wellness with WNO will now be available to patients through six health boards across Wales.

Created in consultation with English National Opera based on its original ENO Breathe project. The programme shares techniques used by professional opera singers to support breath control, lung function, circulation and posture. To remove barriers to those living with fatigue as a symptom of Long Covid, sessions are delivered via Zoom.

WNO producer April Heade said: ‘We know that the arts make a particularly powerful contribution to our health and wellbeing, and we have seen firsthand the enormously positive impact these sessions have had on participants who have attended so far.’

The programme was also devised with NHS medical professionals and works to support patients’ emotional wellbeing through singing sessions and through building a community of participants. Since it was launched in November 2021, participants have reported improvements in mental health, and reduced feelings of anxiety and depression.

Gabby Curly, who took part in Wellness with WNO, said: ‘Physically, the Wellness with WNO programme gave me practical breathing exercises to relieve muscle tension around my ribs and help me to relax with my breathing. Emotionally, the support I received made me realise that I wasn’t alone. In the sessions, all my worries went out of my head and I found a real joy in taking part in singing’

WNO has worked with communities across England and Wales since the 1970s. In 2022, WNO worked with 158,000 participants across 74 projects both digital and in person.

Welsh health minister Eluned Morgan supports the Wellness programme. She said: ‘We are continuing to learn more about the long-term effects of Covid and we believe our approach of treating, supporting and managing people through our unique service model is the most efficient and effective way of achieving the best outcomes for people experiencing Long Covid.’

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