Startups like Papa, which pairs elderly people with ‘grandkids on demand’ to help them with common tasks like grocery shopping, could be the future of healthcare. Here’s an inside look at how it works.

The gig economy is coming for healthcare.



Courtesy of Papa; Yuqing Liu/Business Insider


© Courtesy of Papa; Yuqing Liu/Business Insider
Courtesy of Papa; Yuqing Liu/Business Insider

Startups like Papa, which provides “grandkids on demand” to seniors, hire mostly young part-time workers as outside contractors to help with chores, troubleshoot technology issues, or just sit and talk with seniors, many of whom have remained isolated during the coronavirus pandemic.

Big technology companies like Uber and Instacart popularized the gig model, but contract workers are nothing new in the world of home healthcare. With the advent of the gig economy, new home care startups have become empowered to introduce more flexibility and cost-savings into the industry by relying on a constantly rotating cast of always-on workers accessible via an app. 

Business Insider spoke with nine Papa Pals, as Papa’s fleet of on-demand grandkids are called, and Papa founder and CEO Andrew Parker to get a sense for what it’s like to work as a gig worker in healthcare during a pandemic.



a man and a woman taking a selfie: Florida-based Papa Pal Dejah Cason with Papa member Evelyn Perl. Papa


© Papa
Florida-based Papa Pal Dejah Cason with Papa member Evelyn Perl. Papa


Most joined this summer after hearing friends’ positive experiences working with Papa, but others have worked for Papa on and off for years as they finished up school or managed their outside obligations. Business Insider reached out to Pals independently in addition to three conversations with Pals that were facilitated by Papa.

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Here’s the inside look of what it’s like to work as a Papa Pal.

The Pals shared a near-unanimous belief that they were doing good through their work providing companionship on-demand to elderly individuals. Many said they would continue calling or running errands once the pandemic subsides.

Others voiced some concerns with not being able to schedule shifts in advance, an issue Parker said an updated version of the app will address later this year. 

There is also some concern among experts that the gig model won’t be sustainable once the pandemic ends if health plans don’t see enough impact to warrant continued support of this type of care.

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Investors are betting $1.4 billion that gig workers can transform an essential but invisible part of healthcare. Here’s an inside look at one startup leading the charge.

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Spain appeals for Covid ‘common sense’ after shopping crowd scenes

The Spanish government has called on people to behave responsibly and use their “common sense” after pictures over the weekend showed the streets of Madrid and other big cities heaving with crowds despite the country’s ongoing struggle with the second wave of the coronavirus.



a group of people standing in front of a large crowd of people: Photograph: Victor Lerena/EPA


© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Victor Lerena/EPA



a group of people standing in front of a large crowd of people: Crowds in Madrid on Sunday. A combination of Black Friday, seasonal shopping and the Christmas lights brought people out in large numbers in big cities across Spain despite Covid warnings.


© Photograph: Victor Lerena/EPA
Crowds in Madrid on Sunday. A combination of Black Friday, seasonal shopping and the Christmas lights brought people out in large numbers in big cities across Spain despite Covid warnings.

Spain has been in a state of emergency since the end of October and is subject to an overnight curfew. The prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, has asked people to drastically curtail their social lives and limit their movements for the common good.

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However, a combination of Black Friday, seasonal shopping and the switching on of Christmas lights appears to have brought large numbers of people out on to the streets of Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Málaga over the weekend.

On Monday, Silvia Calzón, Spain’s secretary of state for health, urged people to act wisely and avoid large crowds.

“We’d like to appeal to people’s sense of prudence and responsibility,” Calzón said in an interview with Canal Sur radio, adding: “If we really like Christmas, let’s try to make sure we’re all here for next Christmas”.

She pointed out that huge sacrifices had been made to “flatten the curve” and that many families – especially those with vulnerable members – had suffered greatly.

“If we can do things outdoors and avoid crowds, so much the better because we expose ourselves less [to infection] and that means we reduce exposure to the people we love,” said Calzón.

Ignacio Aguado, the vice-president of the Madrid region, played down the crowds, which he described as normal. “I’d rather they were in the streets than [in large groups] at home,” he told LaSexta TV.

Madrid’s mayor, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, said he would not discourage people from heading into the centre of the city, adding that police had a plan for avoiding large build-ups of people.

“As long as people are in the street and sufficiently distanced – and not in enclosed areas – there’s no problem,” Martínez-Almeida told ABC.

However, he urged people to follow the health and safety guidelines and, where possible, to avoid big concentrations of people.

The Spanish government is hoping to avoid another surge in Covid cases early next year by suggesting that Christmas and new year gatherings be limited to six people, and that a 1am-6am curfew be in force on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

“We’re working on a specific plan for a Christmas that will be different but safe,” Sánchez said last week. “This year, we will need to stay at a distance from our loved ones, instead of embracing them.”

The regional government of Madrid is proposing to allow groups of up to 10 people to gather on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day

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How can I stay safe while shopping? 25 common virus questions answered | National News

Oxford scientists expect COVID-19 vaccine data by Christmas

FILE – In this Thursday, April 23, 2020 file screen grab taken from video issued by Britain’s Oxford University, showing a person being injected as part of the first human trials in the UK to test a potential coronavirus vaccine, untaken by Oxford University in England. A key researcher at the University of Oxford says scientists expect to report results from the late-stage trials of their COVID-19 vaccine by Christmas. Dr. Andrew Pollard, an expert in pediatric infection and immunity at Oxford, said Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020 that research was slowed by low infection rates over the summer but the Phase III trials are now accumulating the data needed to report results.




What does COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness mean? It refers to the likelihood that a coronavirus shot will work in people.

Two vaccine makers have said that preliminary results from their late-stage studies suggest their experimental vaccines are strongly protective. Moderna this week said its vaccine appears nearly 95% effective. This comes on the heels of Pfizer’s announcement that its shot appeared similarly effective.

Those numbers raised hopes around the world that vaccines could help put an end to the pandemic sometime next year if they continue to show that they prevent disease and are safe.

Effectiveness numbers will change as the vaccine studies continue since the early calculations were based on fewer than 100 COVID-19 cases in each study. But early results provide strong signals that the vaccine could prevent a majority of disease when large groups of people are vaccinated.

U.S. health officials said a coronavirus vaccine would need to be at least 50% effective before they would consider approving it for use. There was concern that coronavirus vaccines might be only as effective as flu vaccines, which have ranged from 20% to 60% effective in recent years.

The broad, early effectiveness figures don’t tell the whole story. Scientists also need to understand how well the vaccine protects people in different age groups and demographic categories.

For both vaccines, the interim results were based on people who had COVID-19 symptoms that prompted a virus test. That means we don’t know yet whether someone who’s vaccinated might still get infected — even if they show no symptoms — and spread the virus.

Also unknown is whether the shots will give lasting protection, or whether boosters will be required.

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