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/