Whether they get treated in a hospital or recover at home, a lot of those who get sick are going to need some help... and not just with their illness. Even the seasonal flu can knock you onto your back for a week or more, and a pandemic flu virus is likely to to be worse. So a lot of people who get sick will also need some help managing their day-to-day lives until they're back on their feet, simple things like:
- Making sure there is food in the house
- Contacting healthcare providers
- Helping provide care for children or other dependents
- Helping provide care for pets
- Contacting family members
- Picking up medicine from the pharmacy
But in today's society there are many of us who could fall off the map without anyone noticing right away. In many cases, it's all too possible for a person to be home sick for weeks before anyone thinks to check on them, and this will be even more true during a pandemic.
Because the same social distancing measures that will help to protect us from the flu (staying away from other people as much as possible, working from home if you can, etc.) will also reduce social interaction to the point that even those who would ordinarily be missed after a very brief illness will be at risk of falling through the cracks.
To help fix this problem, people can pair up with people they trust (friends, neighbors, family members, co-workers, members of their place of worship) to keep track of one another during a pandemic and help each other as needed.
The Reveres over at Effect Measure mentioned one program to do just that, a faith-based initiative called Flu Friends.
A similarly-alliterative initiative called Pandemic Partners is also under development to help people help each other through a pandemic. Right now, it mostly consists of a set of forms people can use to share the information their "pandemic partners" will need to be able to assist them.
Copies of the form are available as a Word Document: Pandemic Partners.doc
or PDF: Pandemic Partners.pdf
The forms are a work in progress, so if you have any suggestions for improving them, let me know and I'll pass them along.