Karri and John began fostering for SAFE (Saving Animals from Euthanasia) Inc in September 2021 when they took in a mother cat with three eight-day old kittens. Less than a week later, they took in the cutest little foster dog!

“We loved pet sitting while we were renting and when we bought our house, it came with a cat named Puss and she just let us live in it!” laughed Karri. “That’s when we decided to foster! I have no idea how many animals we’ve fostered to date! Our pets and the temporary dogs and cats we care for have no boundaries; they are part of our family.”

Karri found fostering to be a great way to create community connections and make a difference in animals’ and people’s lives.

“Fostering has made a positive impact on our lives, being responsible and dedicated to animals that are often unwell and unloved,” she said.

“It’s so rewarding to see that confidence slowly return in the safe, quiet space that we can offer them. They leave us bright and happy after SAFE have seriously considered a suitable adoptive family. I still get photos of some of the pets that I have loved and let go to their new families who give them the best life. It’s these that make my heart sing.”

Karri and John’s door is open to puppies, dogs, cats and kittens; however, they tend to be placed by SAFE with smaller dogs due to Karri’s disability. Karri has hemiplegia, paralysis or weakness that affects only one side of her body, from a brain infection that happened when she was 15 years old.

She spent almost a year in recovery / rehabilitation learning to walk and talk again. Having the hospital resident cat, Smokey, sit on her lap and receive visits from other pets in hospital made a world of difference for Karri’s morale.

“I knew from that moment that animals were crucial for people’s recovery and mental health,” said Karri, who today works with young people with mental health difficulties in a career inspired by the amazing team of medical professionals involved in her recovery.

Karri and John’s own pets Rufus ‘White-Socks Harvey’, Brin ‘Scruff-Tail Harvey’ and Biscuit ‘Kitty Kit Harvey’ are ‘foster fusions’ (foster pets that are adopted by their carer) that are integral members of their family.

Originally born to a backyard breeder, “Rufus was socialised from day one and takes great care of the foster puppies and dogs. It’s like he has an innate sense of protection and love,” said Karri. “He plays tug-o-war with the puppies and always lets them win and I’ve caught them on countless occasions snuggled up sleeping.”

Brin was one of three siblings Karri and John fostered over Christmas 2021 – part of a litter of 11 that were split into different foster homes.  Brin was one of the last to get adopted and was Rufus’s little shadow, so they decided to keep her.

“Brin is our ‘tester dog’ with foster cats and kittens; she lies down and waits patiently for them to come investigate. When the kittens are more confident, Brin has lots of fun with them. We know that she has Cattle Dog in her because she tries to round the kittens up!” laughed Karri.

Woman with dog in field

Photo Credit: Heather Osborne

Biscuit, from foster to family

The latest recruit to the family is a 1-year-old Chihuahua x Terrier named Biscuit, featured in the premier episode of Channel 9’s TV series Take Me Home Season 2 in April 2024.

Karri and John brought Biscuit home from SAFE Inc as a foster pet.

“She slept for the first two days in recovery and was such a good puppy!” said Karri. “SAFE eventually received a beautiful application for Biscuit and it was all set for adoption when filming Take Me Home – Season 2 concluded. But the longer I spent with Biscuit I knew that it was going to be impossible to let her go. When I received news that the family could no longer adopt her, I jumped!

“I fell more and more in love with her little mannerisms, how she talks to us, is super snuggly like a cat – and let’s face it, the size of a cat, also! Biscuit is the boss of Brin and Rufus. She also favours John; they have snuggles every night!

“I call the dogs “the motley crew”. They love the beach and the river.  Our life feels complete with the dogs which we love and could not imagine life without.”

With three dogs at home, Karri and John can’t take in any more foster dogs (unless it’s emergency care), but they can still foster cats and kittens.

What’s Karri’s advice for people thinking of fostering a pet?

“Fostering is like pet sitting and when your foster animal goes, it’s making room for a new one,” she said.

“Don’t let a disability hold you back from making the decision to foster. You will be supported by the agency who saves the lives of animals. It brings immense joy to be part of the animals journey.”

View more episodes of Take Me Home – Season 2 here

To learn more about fostering pets, contact a CANA member near you. https://australiacan.org.au/who-we-are/

Home care package provider Coastal Home Care’s CEO Kylie Magrath has been working in Aged Care for more than seven years, witnessing firsthand the profound impact of in-home care on older individuals.

Ms Magrath is also Managing Director of two other government-approved in-home aged care providers, Hazel Home Care, and Dulcie Home Care, and finds one aspect that stands out is the significance of maintaining companionship with pets, which often becomes increasingly vital as people get older.

“Loneliness is one of the biggest issues in older Australians and pets become the friend/partner/companion that gives them purpose and brings joy to their lives,” she says.

Often Aged Care Homes don’t allow pets and so the beautiful thing about Home Care Packages is that the funding allows them to stay at home where they can enjoy the company of their pets.

“Older people want to remain at home in familiar surroundings with their personal belongings that have memories and history, where they can happily keep their pets and where neighbours and local community are close at hand, and in-home care allows them to do this,” she says.

Home Care Packages are a generous government subsidy that allow older Australians to access up to $60K per year to use on services and supports that allow them to remain safely and happily at home. The funding can be used for cleaning, gardening, social activities, personal care, helping to take your dog for a walk and much more, she adds.

Hazel Home Care is a fully managed Home Care provider, which means that the Care Manager arranges all the supports and services and most of the workers who service the customer will be employed by Hazel Home Care.  It services Victoria, Queensland and South Australia.

“It is a high touch model where the Care Manager checks in with their clients every two weeks,” says Magrath.

Dulcie Home Care, on the other hand, is a Self-Managed Home Care Provider that is available to clients anywhere in Australia.

“Many customers want more control over their Home Care Package funding and self-managing allows them to select the workers, choose when they come and also negotiate the rate that is paid,” she says.

“The client still has a dedicated person to support them called a Support Partner, but all communication is via phone and all the coordination of services is done by the client.”

Positive outcomes in providing pet care services

Pet care services are also offered by Dulcie and Hazel, assisting clients with tasks such as accompanied walking of their pet, transporting them and their pet to the vet, cleaning that may be required due to pet ownership (ie pet hair).

“More than 50 percent of our clients have pets. As long as they can safely care for the pet, we would support them in any way we can!” says Magrath.

There are many positive outcomes in providing pet care services for older people.

Magrath says, "One of our customers has raised over 20 guide dogs over her lifetime and is an avid lover of dogs.  She is now 92, lives alone and in a very large house and was quite lonely until her family gave her a Cavoodle, a smaller dog than she is used to but one that is easy for her to look after and is loyal and great company.

“She has a personal carer who helps out with a number of tasks around the house and while she is there, they take Ricki (her Cavoodle) around the block together.  The client is unable to walk Ricki independently so being able to walk with the carer allows her to give Ricki some exercise but also gets her out of the house.

Through tailored services that support the care of pets and compassion, in-home care providers like Hazel and Dulcie Home Care empower older people to age gracefully in the comfort of their homes alongside their beloved animal companions.

Pets often serve as beloved companions for older adults, particularly those living alone or experiencing social isolation, and caring for a pet gives them purpose and responsibility.

“By assisting with pet care, in-home aged care providers ensure that older people maintain this vital source of companionship, which can positively impact their mental and emotional well-being, and enhance their clients' quality of life in meaningful ways,” said Kyra Bae Snell, co-founder of CareAbout, Australia’s leading home care placement service.

In operation since 2016, CareAbout has helped to support more than 100,000 families across all states in their search for a quality home care provider or aged care provider. The service is free to people looking for providers.

“The inspiration behind CareAbout came from my personal experience in navigating the aged care system and finding it overwhelming, confusing and frustrating when I was looking for clear information on the best supports for her loved one,” she said.

“It was heart-breaking and the more I talked to others, the more I realised how common my experience was and I wanted to change it for the better for when other families were inevitably faced with the realities of getting older.”

Especially since the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, Snell has witnessed many positive changes aimed at improving the aged care system, such as increased funding, person-centered care and support for in-home care.

“Wellbeing and quality of life doesn’t come down to just quality of care. There are other things that can contribute to a joyous life, such as pets,” she said. “We hear so many stories about the importance of pets in people’s lives and how their pets bring them joy!”

For CareAbout, it’s important to support older pet owners in their homes the way they want to live, and ensure the home is safe for in-home care providers to support the client. Home Care providers offer a variety of care services within the home, so people don’t have to travel anywhere or even get dressed to leave the house!

“Home care is about the whole individual and understanding their needs and preferences, and part of that is to understand their need for a pet,” said Snell.

“With more awareness about the benefits of pets for older people, including the great work Companion Animal Network Australia is doing to support pets in aged care, it’s becoming increasingly common for older people to ask about in-home care providers that cater to their pets.”

CareAbout also helps people find nursing homes that allow live-in pets, with recommendations based on people’s needs and preferences.

“If we can’t recommend a quality aged care facility from our handpicked panel, we won’t make one. But if there are other homes better suited for them that we don’t work with, we suggest they contact, for instance in regional areas,” said Snell.

For more information about CareAbout finding a nursing home that will accept your live-in pet, visit here.

Most older people want to age at home with their pets

Due to increasing demand from older people who wish to age at home with their pets, CareAbout focuses more on searching for in-home care providers people can trust.

In fact, a survey conducted by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety of more than 10,000 Australians reveals that 80% of older people want to remain in their current home and 62% want to receive care services in their own home.

“One of the big reasons to remain living at home is their pets! You can keep your dogs, cats, birds and pet lizards surrounded by your books, photos and all your comforts!” said Snell.

“We work with providers across Australia and overwhelmingly the providers have the needs and heart of the customer in everything they do. They are required to create personalised care plans that recognise their unique preferences and goals and how people live with their pets.”

To learn how CareAbout can help you with your in-home care, visit www.careabout.com.au/home-care

Pets and Positive Ageing (PAPA) Inc and ACT Pet Crisis Support marked their significant milestones recently at a special celebratory event in Canberra, reflecting on their achievements, building awareness and planning for a successful and sustainable future supporting older people and their pets.

As a voluntary organisation that supports older pet owners, PAPA celebrated its 10th anniversary alongside ACT Pet Crisis Support, a charity that has been supporting pets of people in ACT who are disadvantaged or have low income for the past five years.

Companion Animal Network Australia CEO Trish Ennis congratulated PAPA and ACT Pet Crisis Support for their many years of dedication and support for older people and their beloved companion animals.

“The anniversaries of both organisations mark significant milestones and symbolise the profound impact they've had on the lives of numerous older adults and their beloved pets,” she said.

The special event was hosted by PAPA’s first President Jan Phillips (also Chair of the Steering Group that preceded PAPA) and welcomed key local supporters along with PAPA’s former patron Minister Tara Cheyne MLA and long-standing current patron Mary Porter AM. PAPA’s newest patron Minister Chris Steel MLA was also announced.

Also ACT Pet Crisis Support showcased their Tiny Vet Clinic initiative, which started running in March 2023 bringing veterinary services to pet owners who may have trouble accessing veterinary care due to lack of funds.

ACT Pet Crisis Support’s founder Dr Eloise Bright said there are many older people who are lonely and are putting off having a pet or can’t afford to care for the pet they have.

Also as Vice President of PAPA, Dr Bright is proud for PAPA to be working on initiatives to support older people, for instance when they go into hospital and need emergency boarding or foster care of their pets.

"I strongly believe that pets are so good for our mental health and for older pet owners in particular, pets are often so important if they are living alone and socially isolated,” she said.

A decade of support and advocacy for older pet owners

PAPA’S journey began in 2012 with the formation of the Pets and Aged Care Steering Group and became incorporated in 2014 to become Pets and Positive Ageing Inc.

“These ten years have been an extraordinary and inspirational journey,” said Di Johnstone AM, President of PAPA. “We have tackled many issues, advocating to governments and others on behalf of older pet owners, with pet welfare always central to all we do.”

A decade ago, most retirement villages were not pet friendly and companion animals were being surrendered and euthanised because older adults couldn’t take their pets into aged care facilities with them.

“It was terrible for the pets and traumatic for owners,” said Ms Johnstone. “Today, large numbers of ACT aged care facilities are pet-friendly and pet owners tell us how grateful they are to be able to continue living with their beloved pets.”

PAPA supports older people with resources to help make important decisions about their pets, such as wills, along with a list of specialised services for older pet owners.

“We are also working with organisations to achieve pet care assistance in the Federal Government’s new Support at Home Program. Thousands of older and vulnerable Australians in aged care and their pets would benefit!” she said.

“PAPA had been proud to partner and collaborate with Companion Animal Network Australia in our joint efforts to gain wider recognition of the critical importance of pet companionship in the lives of older pet owners and specifically to achieve pet care assistance in the new Federal Support at Home Program.

“We have been especially grateful and impressed by the highly dedicated and untiring commitment of CANA CEO Trish Ennis to get the best possible outcome in national aged care arrangements and current consultations for older pet owners and their beloved pets.”

 

PAPA to help revive PAWS program

Looking forward to a future committed to supporting older pet owners and their beloved pets, PAPA’s priorities lie in campaigns for pets on public transport, access for pets to public and commercial places, supporting older pet owners at times of crisis and encouraging older pet owners to plan for their companion animals when they are no longer around or not able to care for them.

“We will also work with others to revive a volunteer-based Pet Support and Wellbeing Service or PAWS, critical for supporting low-income older pet owners needing help to care for their pets,” said Ms Johnstone.

PAWS volunteers walked dogs, groomed cats and took animals to vet appointments, as well as fostered animals if the client went into hospital or respite and found homes for the animals if the client could no longer look after their pet.

Similar services successfully operate elsewhere, such as Animal Care for Seniors at Home (ACSAH) Inc in Cairns.

“A local program had been in place with Northside Community Service for some years but unfortunately is now in hiatus. We will be exploring funding options for their program and reaching out to other local community organisations to consider a similar PAWS program,” she said.

For more information about PAPA and the PAWS program, please email info@petsandpositiveageing.com

“You shouldn’t have to be rich to have a pet,” says veterinarian Dr Eloise Bright from Canberra Behaviour Vet.
This is why Dr Bright started the charity ACT Pet Crisis Support to deliver essential veterinary services to vulnerable animals and their owners and avoid unnecessary suffering and euthanasia of beloved family pets.
Since 2019, ACT Pet Crisis Support has been providing subsidised vet care for disadvantaged, low-income pet owners who have no other options to care for their companion animals.
In March 2023, ACT Pet Crisis Support launched the innovative Tiny Vet Clinic, thought to be the first of its kind in Australia, operating from a converted second-hand caravan to bring veterinary services to pet owners who may have trouble accessing vet care due to lack of funds.
Within 12 months, the Tiny Vet Clinic helped more than 400 pets with essential treatments, vaccinations and surgical interventions.
“We have Medicare for humans so people are generally surprised how much vet care can cost,” said Dr Bright. “We have some regulars that attend for allergy treatment, arthritis injections or chronic ear infections. We get referrals from vet clinics when they see a pet owner who has no money and their pet has a chronic health condition, but also pet owners can just attend on the day or enquire on the website.”

Older pet owners
With the high cost of essential goods, basic necessities and medical care putting a significant strain on budgets, leaving people increasingly vulnerable, it’s no surprise older adults are a big part of the Tiny Vet Clinic demographic.
In fact, 2023 research by the COTA Federation shows almost half (45%) of older Australians believe things are getting worse for them mainly due to financial stress.
“Older pet owners also often have their own health issues that may make caring for a pet even more challenging,” said Dr Bright.
According to Companion Animal Network Australia’s Status of Pets in Aged Care survey, 40% of older adults who receive a Home Care Package have pets, yet only 9% of these pet owners receive pet care support, such as walking their dog (64% need help) and taking their pet to the vet (62% need help).
As Vice President of Pets and Positive Ageing (PAPA), an advocacy group that helps older pet owners, Dr Bright considers the issue of pets and ageing close to her heart.
“I've been involved in PAPA for 4 years and I strongly believe that pets are so good for our mental health and for older pet owners in particular, pets are often so important if they are living alone and socially isolated,” she said.
“There are a lot of old people who are lonely, and they’re putting off having a pet or they can’t afford to care for the pet they have.”
Dr Bright said she aims to expand Tiny Vet Clinic services to be able to do surgeries as well.
“We often see around three pets at each clinic that need something like desexing, lump removal surgery or x rays, which we currently can't perform. We are running a GoFundMe to expand our services.”
ACT Pet Crisis Support is also always on the lookout for volunteers to help disadvantaged pet owners. For more information, visit www.actpetcrisis.com

“Companion Animal Network Australia and its member agencies are keen to ensure owners of companion pets feel welcome in all parts of our community. We applaud Virgin Australia’s move to allow pets in cabin flights,” says Trish Ennis, CEO of Australia CAN.

Subject to regulatory approval, the pet friendly service is expected to launch within 12 months. Almost all major carriers in North America offer a pets onboard service for domestic flights, including United Airlines and Air Canada.

In a social media survey of Virgin Australia’s Facebook followers in 2021, 85 per cent of respondents voted in favour of the airline launching pets in cabin flights. In more recent research conducted by Virgin Australia with Australian pet owners, nearly 70 per cent of respondents advised they would travel with their pet in the cabin, with 57 per cent saying they would fly more regularly if the service was a reality.

There are a few parameters for pets in cabin flights:

  • The service will be limited to small cats and dogs on specific domestic routes;
  • Pets will be restricted to a limited number of designated rows and will not be allowed to roam freely or sit on laps;
  • Pets must also be carried in a Virgin Australia approved pet carrier under the seat in front of the owner for the duration of the flight.

Sue Hedley OAM, founder of CANA’s Western Australia member SAFE Inc, is thrilled about this “significant milestone in Australian aviation” which is going to make a huge difference for pets across the state.

She has been involved in flying animals as freight for 21 years and says, “Currently there is no Virgin freight in Karratha – a place that generates so much wealth to Australia. This would be a breakthrough for some small animals whose owners are flying Virgin.”

Ms Hedley has seen many occasions, especially with kittens and puppies as well as vulnerable adult dogs and cats, that she has wished could fly in the cabin “where the people are and not where the luggage is stored”.

“Virgin’s move to allow companion animals in the cabin supports pets as part of the family where they can fly to holiday accommodation that welcomes pets,” she says.
“Any initiative that supports the human animal bond is valued by all those involved in animal rescue, especially in these dark times when so many pets are surrendered due to the cost of living and the rental crisis.”

Australia needs to “keep up with the rest of the world where animals can fly in the plane,” says Ms Hedley.

“Virgin will need to learn from other airlines so they can go in forearmed to minimise any risks to animals or people. Also, I find it hard to imagine how small the cat or dog would need to be to be able to fit under a seat in a bag or crate. But it’s a start!”

For more information about Virgin Australia’s pet friendly flights, please visit www.virginaustralia.com/au/en/travel-info/specific-travel/pets/

It’s clear Victorians love their pets! The crucial information gathered as part of the Victorian Pet Census will allow the Labor Government to better support Victorian pets, their owners and the animal welfare sector to access the services and support they need most.

Acting Victorian Minister for Agriculture Harriet Shing recently visited Companion Animal Network Australia member Lort Smith Campbellfield Veterinary Clinic and Adoption Centre to announce the findings on pet ownership – thanks to more than 37,000 responses to the Census on Victorians’ furry, feathered and finned friends.

The survey identified an estimated 4.3 million pets across Victoria, providing a greater understanding of the unique needs of a variety of animal species to help close the current knowledge gap on pet welfare and owner priorities.

Ms Shing said, “The immense love and care Victorians have for our pets is reflected in the numerous responses to our first Pet Census, highlighting the vital role pets play in the lives of Victorians. The Census data will empower us to better cater to a diverse range of pet owners in our community, ensuring quality support and services for every pet, regardless of species.”

Victoria’s most popular pets are dogs, accounting for 41 per cent, followed by cats at 24 per cent. Among the preferred dog breeds were Cavoodle, Labrador, Greyhound, Border Collie and Golden Retriever.

In great news, the majority of cat owners adopted their cats from an animal or rescue shelter. Cat owners were more likely to get their cats from a rehoming organisation (28%) or animal shelter (22%). The main reason cat owners chose cats from a rehoming organisation or shelter was to help save the animal.

In a demonstration of commitment, pet owners have collectively spent an estimated $6.6 billion in the past year alone on pet products and services to ensure the wellbeing of their beloved companions.

The Census also highlighted the positive impact of pets on the lives of Victorians, with an overwhelming 98 per cent attesting to benefits of pet ownership. Companionship and love were ranked highest at 79 per cent, followed by improved mental health and emotional support at 57 per cent.

The data collected reflects the diversity in pets found homes in Victorians households, including 83,000 reptiles and amphibians and 43,000 insects and spiders, chosen for their unique appeal and low-maintenance care.

The Pet Census findings underscore the immense love, health benefits, and deep connection between Victorians and their animal companions, guiding tailored support and improved welfare services for pets of all shapes and sizes across the state.

To explore the results, please visit animalwelfare.vic.gov.au/pet-census

The social enterprise was founded in 2015 by veterinarian Dr Alicia Kennedy with a clear purpose to enable the benefits of healthy companion pets and a thriving human animal bond to be accessible to all people. Their vision is a world where the human animal bond is recognised and valued for the vital role it plays in healthy and connected individuals and communities.

Cherished Pets are also a dual entity: Cherished Pets private veterinary practice (the world’s first certified B Corporation veterinary service, meeting high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability); and the Cherished Pets Foundation, a registered charity that supports their social mission with fundraising and a volunteer program.

The organisation’s social mission is to provide in-home pet care assistance and crisis care to pets of people experiencing vulnerability, specifically older people, those living with a disability, fleeing domestic and family violence, experiencing homelessness and mental health crisis.

“As a veterinarian for over 35 years I have always loved supporting the pets of older people. I have become a passionate advocate for Pets & Healthy Ageing,” said Dr Kennedy.

“I recognised a long time ago that as people go through life phases, the importance of a companion animal and the human animal bond can increase, while capacity to care for them can be compromised. In worse case scenarios I have witnessed some distressing cases of neglect, and I knew this was not from a lack of love, but more a lack of capacity.

She started wondering what we needed to do as a community to support the pets of our elderly neighbours so that they can stay healthy, well and together for as long as possible? The answer came with the creation of Cherished Pets, which allows the introduction of volunteers to support the wraparound care and employing a Community Vet Nurse and Vet Social Workers to provide professional assistance.

Cherished Pets veterinary practice has also established a strong reputation for its special focus on supporting older pet owners.

“As our service is bond-centred in its delivery, we connect to our clients and get to know them,” explained Dr Kennedy.

“Over the years our relationship deepens as does trust, and we see patterns emerge, with periodic health challenges and/or loss of independence. Cherished Pets is there through these difficult times, to provide additional community support, providing our clients with the priceless peace of mind that their cherished pet will be loved and looked after even when they are not able to do so.”

Cherished Pets operates in the Geelong Region of Victoria with around 50 volunteers at any given time providing support in-Home Care Assistance (matching volunteers with older people living alone to walk dogs, transport pets); Respite Care of pets when people are in crisis and/or hospital, Fundraising and Comms; and Board and Governance roles.

“Through our community service in the last year, we have supported over 80 crisis care cases, remote support for 160 people in need and 50 home care assistance clients,” said Dr Kennedy.

“Our vet practice has over 600 clients who are over 65 years of age and we pay special attention to their specific needs, linking them to additional support if and when required. For example, we recently attended a dog’s end of life for an elderly lady who was personally against cremation and wanted her dog buried for religious reasons. However, she did not have capacity to prepare her dog’s grave, so we were able to arrange someone to support her with this through our volunteer community.”

Demand for in-home pet care support

Many older adults receiving in-home pet care assistance come to Cherished Pets via the private veterinary practice, said Dr Kennedy.

“When the need for home pet care assistance is identified, the clinic team can refer the pet/client to our Care Team for intake and planning,” she said.

“Demand for our services have been consistent over recent years, with numbers of participants around 35 at any one time receiving our Home Care Assistance service and many others receiving ad hoc support such as pet transport, emotional support and veterinary assistance.”

Cherished Pets’ in-home pet care assistance service provides wraparound care with:

  • Volunteer matching
  • Community Vet Nurses doing the rounds, supporting with pet wellness, nutrition and health maintenance
  • Emergency Care Plans
  • Vet services: access, support and financial assistance if required
  • Transport and transfers
  • Respite care
  • Rehoming and planning when people die/move into permanent care (if they can’t keep their pet)
  • Advocating to keep them together beyond the move
  • Behavioural and nutrition support for pets
  • Connecting to other services if the needs arise
  • Bereavement support and end of pet life services

“Every pet in this program receives a comprehensive health and behaviour plan, with support coordinated when needed,” said Dr Kennedy.

“Our Cherished Pets Community Hub is a place for connection and engagement. As our official “home” we use this space for volunteer training, community events, pet memorial gatherings, bereavement support and meetings. It’s a place to gather around a shared love of pets.”

Cherished Pets is recognised natonally for its leadership in providing home pet care assistance for older people.

Dr Kennedy adds, “We know from our work in the community how essential these home assistance services are. It is my dream to see pet services integrated into My Aged Care and home care funding programs. The evidence is there of the social benefit of these services for our broader community. When we are supporting pets of older people, we are enhancing healthy ageing, quality of life and community wellbeing.”

Run by Lutheran Services in Queensland, Orana Aged Care offers a country lifestyle and personalised aged care services, including dementia, palliative and respite care.

“We recognise pets provide the most amazing companionship for people. So, if the animal is suitable, they can stay with their owners when they move into aged care and really smooth over that transition,” says Kym Zischke, Service Manager Orana Aged Care & Retirement Living.

“At the moment we do not have any pets living permanently in residential care, but we have both cats and dogs living with residents in our retirement village.”

Orana Aged Care residents also enjoy visits from four legged guests, such as Pippa, a delightful 7-month-old Schmoodle who belongs to a staff member and is a “sucker for cuddles,” laughs Ms Zischke.

“There is regular contact with Pippa at all activities and Pippa also makes one-on-one visits. Pippa likes to ride around on the walkers!” she adds.

“Although kangaroo joeys are not pets, we sometimes have a visit from a wildlife carer. Residents absolutely love to bottle feed the joeys who are in bag-pouches. That brings them so much joy.”

Ms Zischke says pets certainly have a positive impact on residents and staff.

“When Pippa visits, we see residents really socialise. Pippa sort of encourages them to come and spend time with others and participate in activities. She also has a very soothing effect on their mental health,” she says.

“Staff have benefited also from cuddles to help them through challenging days at work and other residents just love spending time with her.  One resident takes her for a walk on his wheelie walker and enjoys the interaction immensely.”

Ms Zischke believes it beneficial for Orana Aged Care residents to continue having interactions with animals of all types and sizes in their later years.

As for pets living with their owners in aged care facilities, she says, “Each situation needs to be visited individually as there are definite benefits, but we need to ensure residents are able to care for their pet. At Orana Aged Care, we take it on a case-by-case basis.”

Established in 1979 in England, the SCAS promotes the study of human-companion animal interactions and raise awareness of the importance of pets in society. The Bob Harvey Award honours the memory of Bob, whose battle to remain with his beloved dog Darcie after his wife’s passing is featured in a video on the SCAS website.

The Award is presented to a care home, hospice, or care facility that has gone above and beyond the call of duty to keep human and animal together and protect that all-important bond.

CANA nominated Lifeview with the story of Willow Wood resident Paul Debar and his loyal companion, Bonny, outlining the efforts the organisation makes to enable residents to keep their pet when they move into a Lifeview home.

All Lifeview homes – Argyle Court in Chelsea, Emerald Glades in Emerald, The Willows in Wheelers Hill and Willow Wood in Cranbourne – work with new residents to try and enable them to keep their pet when they move into care.

“As a proudly pet-friendly provider of residential aged care in Melbourne, we are committed to residents being able to maintain their pet when they move into a Lifeview home,” said Lifeview CEO Samantha Jewell.

“Allowing pets to move into aged care with their owners makes the transition easier. You give up a lot to move into aged care, you should not also have to give up that relationship you have with your pet.

“Someone like Paul, he would not settle without his dog, Bonny, and that is the same for a lot of people. Our pets have been our companions for many, many years, and to have to give them up is sad and heart-breaking.

“We were proud to be named a joint recipient of the inaugural Bob Harvey Award. We thank Companion Animal Network Australia for nominating Lifeview and the Society for Companion Animal Studies for hosting this award.”

CANA works closely with Lifeview to help promote and educate other organisations about the value of pets in aged care.

“Bob’s story was heartbreaking, and we would encourage people to watch it because that is why pets in aged care are so important,” said Ms Jewell.

“Lifeview is proudly pet friendly. Pets bring enormous wellness benefits to the residents, and we would encourage all aged care providers to explore ways to allow residents to bring their pet with them when they move into care.”

 

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