Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - PETS - Anne Box­hall

OLDER pet own­ers can take heart. Early re­sponses from a sur­vey of aged- care fa­cil­i­ties sug­gest many providers have recog­nised the value of hav­ing pets in aged care ac­com­mo­da­tion and are em­brac­ing the prac­ti­cal and pol­icy chal­lenges in­volved.

The national sur­vey is gath­er­ing de­tails on pet- friendly mod­els and will be shar­ing fi nd­ings with older pet own­ers and aged- care providers.

Whether it’s on- site shared pets, vis­it­ing pets or res­i­dents mov­ing into aged- care with their own pets, there are mod­els al­ready op­er­at­ing suc­cess­fully.

One re­tire­ment vil­lage has des­ig­nated liv­ing and sleep­ing ar­eas for pets, specifi c pet- care plans, dog doors in var­i­ous lo­ca­tions and vol­un­teers who walk dogs daily.

They have set up respite care for the pets ( with staff) so pets get some down time away from busy vil­lage life.

At one vil­lage, the in­ter­view process for new staff in­volves con­firm­ing em­ploy­ees are pre­pared to care for an­i­mals and ac­cept them as part of ev­ery­day life at the vil­lage.

At an­other aged- care vil­lage, res­i­dents are able to bring their own pets with them.

There’s a brief trial pe­riod to iron out any teething is­sues, but man­age­ment re­port they’ve had live- in dogs, cats and birds for the past 15 years with min­i­mal ad­verse im­pact and lots of valu­able in­ter­ac­tion be­tween res­i­dents and pets.

In one case, when a dog- own­ing res­i­dent passed away, an­other res­i­dent adopted the dog.

This dog con­tin­ues to live happily at the fa­cil­ity and is reg­u­larly found help­ing new res­i­dents set­tle in.

One aged- care man­ager sums it up like this: “A shared sense of own­er­ship helps to make us all feel like we are part of a fam­ily home. The an­i­mals have helped res­i­dents to feel pur­pose­ful. For those peo­ple who have al­ways had pets, a home with­out pets is not a home at all.”

Pet own­ers and aged- care providers can fi nd more on the Pos­i­tive Age­ing in the Com­pany of Pets Sur­vey at awla. com. au/ awla- in- ac­tion/ cam­paigns/ aged- care/

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