In April, I came down with COVID-like symptoms, including a high fever, cough, and congestion. I was lucky enough to have a place out of the house where my kids could be, to allow me to isolate for the recommended amount of time. It ended up being a long time before I had three days without symptoms, so I stayed in isolation for 31 days. I am unfortunately still symptomatic after 14 weeks.
We used my time in isolation to pilot a process by which community members could support me and my needs without overwhelming me with questions. (see the document here
Here are some of the things that worked well:
- When I was especially ill, someone checked in with me at least once a day to make sure I was doing all right, without expecting social conversation.
- I provided regular updates (daily on Facebook, less frequently on community email) of my condition so people would not have to ask how I was doing.
- I gave guidance up front for people to avoid triggering phrases like, “It doesn’t sound so bad” or “are they sure it’s COVID?”
- I specified how and when I was willing to be contacted by neighbors (phone, text, email, etc.).
- As needs surfaced, I helped create a list of things I wanted/needed help with, as well as some things that luckily I did not need but would have been useful if my symptoms became more critical.
- A particular person did the same task on a regular basis, to minimize the need for asking the same questions over again. One neighbor picked up my mail and put it in a safe place (a cooler on my porch). Another neighbor agreed to check my back porch for trash, recycling and compost and take it out as needed. Another did my grocery shopping for me or allowed me to tag on to their delivery.
- Many residents offered to make me food at the beginning when I was not hungry, but I was able to freeze it and keep it on hand for later.
Here’s feedback from two of the residents who worked to create the support process:
“The COVID Workgroup identified caring for COVID positive residents as one area we wanted to address. The Workgroup felt that it fit with the TS Cares mission. I, as a Workgroup liaison, approached TS Cares, a committee of two, with an inquiry. We meet a couple of times to discuss and review the plan. We had a COVID probable resident, so we sought her input in identifying potential needs. The plan was then presented at an emergency COVID plenary and found support from the community. We have had two opportunities to offer services, unfortunately.
TS Cares already organized meal trains, so this is just a small stretch. In action, most services outside of meal trains have been offered and arranged between residents, rather than coordinated by TS Cares. Much of the value of the plan is the comfort of knowing that the community has made a commitment to step forward. It is warm and fuzzy. That is in stark contrast to many of our discussions around use of common property, which has been derisive. We needed the warm and fuzzy; it was an important salve in the face of our challenges around COVID.”
Maggi Rohde, Mary Ann Marquardt, Lesli Daniel from Touchstone Cohousing, Ann Arbor, MI.