Odyssey Lifestyle Care Communities encourages pet friendly living
Pets can provide older adults with a sense of purpose and responsibility, not to mention a reason to stay active and engaged in their communities.”
In Queensland, Odyssey Lifestyle Care Communities not only accommodates for small and medium pets – they encourage aged care residents to bring their companion animals along with them to their new homes.
Odyssey is an aging-in-place community where residents continue to live with independence and dignity. It consists of around 150 apartments, soon to be much more with the opening of a fourth site at Chevron Island and a few more sites around the Gold Coast.
“The residents have access to all levels of care in their own apartments,” said Rebecca Moraitis, Odyssey Business Development Manager. “Some pets have come along with their owners, and some have been adopted by residents after they’ve settled in the community.”
Odyssey has 11 dogs, three cats and a wise-talking Budgie named Finn McCool!
“Odyssey has always been pet friendly, as we understand that to our residents, their pets are like family,” explained Rebecca. “Phil Usher, our CEO and Founder, knew this when his own Mum needed to move into supported living over 20 years ago. Honey, her little dog, was a non-negotiable when it came time to relocate!”
Odyssey openly welcomes and encourages residents to bring their pets.
“I love the response we get from pet owners when they discover that they can keep their beloved pet and we will even help them make it happen!” said Rebecca.
“We offer pet-friendly activities such as group walks with the fur baby, pet-friendly dining sections, access to pet grooming, bus trips to the dog parks, Santa fur baby pics … we are having an Odyssey Dog Show in September. We even have the ability to put the pets on a care plan (for instance) if the owner is unwell or unable to walk a dog.”
Pet owners must nominate a person(s) to provide emergency care should they be unable to care for their pet at any time. If emergency pet care cannot be arranged, Odyssey can provide interim, short-term pet support through the resident’s Support Plan, which includes staff taking the pets for walks, feeding, toileting etc.
“The residents are so relieved to learn that we are supportive of their wish to keep their pet and can even assist in making it viable ongoing. The sense of relief is a huge reward for all,” said Rebecca.
“To see the residents proudly walking their pets through the community and or entrusting the staff to assist with walks and playtime is invaluable. Residents just gush when we greet the pets by name and give them a pat, they stand there like proud parents.”
Pets also have a positive impact on Odyssey staff members.
“Our staff feel like the pets are a part of the Odyssey family as a whole. They’re a little surrogate family, we all say hello as we pass each other from place to place,” she said.
Staff at Odyssey recognise the deep connection and importance of the pet-owner relationship and how heartbreaking the impact that rehoming would have on both the owner and the pet.“The health impacts of being able to keep your pet are huge for happiness, remaining active, companionship and a great talking point for bragging,” said Rebecca.
Acceptance of pets is certainly a challenge in the aged care industry.
“Ideally there would be a lot more flexibility in many aspects of aged care and the consideration for one to keep a pet shouldn’t be black or white,” she said.
“Many people have the capacity to care for their pet perfectly well and if they need a little assistance, it would be great to have that accessible. The benefits far outweigh the cost and effort.”
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