Helping older people get out and about with their furry friends
Companion Animal Network Australia’s 2023 Aged Care Survey report shows 91% of older adults receiving services from an in-home aged care service provider do not get help to care for their pet (eg walking, grooming and emergency boarding). But Activus Transport is aiming to help change that one kilometre at a time.
Many older citizens of the Sutherland Shire in NSW depend on the transport provider to get to their medical and personal appointments, and so do their pets!
“With 69%* of Australian households owning a pet, we could see the need for this service within the Sutherland Shire,” said Stephanie McCamley, Assistant General Manager at Activus Transport. "Our customers trust us with their transport to medical and personal appointments, so it goes without saying that they trust us to transport their beloved pets, too.”
Activus Transport is funded by the State and Federal Government and caters to nearly 6,000 people in the Sutherland Shire area who are unable to access mainstream transport due to physical, social or geographical factors and who live independently in their own home and unit.
“Older people with pets, in particular, benefit from transport services,” says Pam Collocott, Business Development Officer of Activus Transport.
“Our clients have all manner of pets and there is a high need among older pet owners for urgent and non-urgent visits to the vet. Some take their pets to the groomers and friend/family visits. There’s also a service dog who joins his owner on all Activus social bus trips, as well as two companion dogs who go everywhere with their owners in our cars.”
Ms Collocott said some animals are too big for the owners to manage so Activus drivers can support clients in those situations.
“One of our client's father was in hospital for an extended period. We were able to take the client to the hospital with his companion animal to visit his father, which was extremely important to our client,” she said. “Wherever our clients want to go, they know their animal is welcome, too.”
Ms Collocott isn’t surprised by the data in CANA’s Aged Care report, which highlights 68% of people believe residents in aged care should be able to own a pet, and yet only 18% of aged care facilities consider allowing residents to keep a pet.
“I would imagine that the grief of separation from a much-loved pet when older adults have to enter aged care facilities would be incredibly sad,” said Ms Collocott. “I know there are facilities that offer to re-house pets but that is cold comfort for the owner and the pet.”
She is also saddened by CANA’s survey revealing so many older pet owners who live at home do not get help from their in-home aged care service provider to care for their pet.
“We want to support older citizens of Sutherland Shire who want to be out and about with their pet. We welcome any calls for help from seniors and those with a disability to contact us for more details about this service”, she says.
For more about Activus Transport, please visit https://activustransport.org.au/
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