Animal Welfare League Australia (AWLA) has urged the aged care sector to embrace pet-friendly services to help older adults remain with their own animals for as long as possible.
Citing its 2017 Pets in Aged Care Study, the group said only 18 per cent of Australia’s residential aged care facilities allow pets to reside with their owners, while less than one in 10 in-home care providers say they offer pet-friendly services.
Tasmania was found to have the largest percentage of facilities that consider allowing residents to keep their own pet, while Victoria and NSW had the lowest rate.
AWLA President Richard Mussell said the Commonwealth’s new Aged Care Quality Standards offer the perfect opportunity for the sector to make services more pet-friendly.
“Australia’s pet ownership rate (63 per cent) is the third-highest in the world… and the proportion of Australians aged over 65 is continuing to grow. Therefore, the aged care sector must respond to the increasing demand for services that keep owners and their pets together,’’ Mussell said.
Stuart Gillies, national executive officer of AWLA, said providers are potentially missing out on an opportunity to attract pet owners who would like to maintain the bond they have with their companion animals but added AWLA is very aware of the difficulties providers face embracing this issue.
Organisations may feel that a shortage of staff or volunteers, and workplace health and safety, financial or legal concerns are barriers to pet-friendly services, but Gillies said AWLA is happy to work with providers who are looking for ways to be more pet-friendly.
The benefits of doing so not only include maintaining the human-animal bond, which has proven health benefits, but a reduction in animal surrender rates, Mussell added.
The 2017 AWLA study held that up to 10,000 animals may have been surrendered because of elderly-related reasons throughout Australia in 2016. Reasons included owner health, unsuitable pet accommodation at home, inability or unwillingness of family members to care for the pet and a lack of financial means.
Information about pet-friendly aged care can be found at AWLA’s Positive Ageing in the Company of Animals website.Do you have an idea for a story?
Email [email protected]