Rescue dogs taking over aged care homes Australia-wide
Australian based animal welfare charity Pound Paws and BUPA Aged Care have joined forces in an inspiring partnership aimed at bringing together rescue pets and older individuals residing in aged care facilities across Australia.
The collaboration seeks to alleviate loneliness among older people by facilitating the adoption of pets from shelters and creating loving companionships in aged care settings.
Pound Paws Founder Brittany Bloomer said, “Animals possess a unique ability to communicate without words, impacting the hearts of humans. The companionship formed with our furry friends is unparalleled, and Pound Paws is thrilled to launch this partnership with BUPA Aged Care, fostering numerous loving connections between pet owners and rescue pets across retirement communities in Australia."
Scientific research has consistently highlighted the numerous physical and mental health benefits that pets offer, including stress reduction, companionship, and increased social interactions. These benefits are especially crucial for older adults who often face isolation and loneliness, relying on the presence of a furry companion to thrive, whether at home or in a residential aged care facility.
Companion Animal Network Australia's recent Aged Care report shows a staggering 61% of older adults live alone, with 74% of pet owners among them crediting their animals for providing companionship and alleviating feelings of loneliness.
Recognising the significance of this issue, Pound Paws and BUPA Aged Care have come together to make a positive impact in the lives of both rescue animals and the elderly.
"We firmly believe that pets can significantly enhance the well-being of residents in our centres. Over the years, we have been fortunate to witness countless heartwarming friendships blossom between our residents and a variety of animals, from dogs to birds," said Amanda Grimmer, BUPA Aged Care Business Development Manager (VIC / SA).
Roxie is a great comfort to aged care residents and staff
Bupa Aged Care’s Clayton home currently gets a daily visit from Roxie, who came into residential aged care with her owner who sadly passed away and was adopted by Clayton’s General Manager. Roxie now provides ongoing comfort and companionship to the residents and their families, said Ms Grimmer.
“Bupa facilities all over Australia assess any application for a resident who has a pet they want to bring with them on an individual basis – mainly to ensure the facility has capacity to ensure the pet will be happy in the room that the potential resident will be calling home,” she said.
Bupa’s aged care facilities have dogs, cats and birds.
“One of Bupa’s regional Victorian homes had a family arrange transportation for a canary, Tweetie-Pie, to fly from Queensland to our Woodend facility, and when the resident discharged, Tweetie-Pie became a facility pet who all the residents adore and take turns looking after,” said Ms Grimmer.
Throughout the height of COVID when external providers and entertainment were not allowed to attend facilities, Ms Grimmer was allowed by her ‘forward thinking GM’ to bring both of her Border Collies in to a Bupa aged care home every day.
“The joy and comfort that they bought to the residents when they were isolated from their families was immeasurable, but so was the comfort and stress relief that they bought to staff who were working tirelessly under such extreme conditions,” she said.
“Animals in residential care settings inject a sense of whimsy and nostalgia. Visitors are encouraged to bring their family dogs in for a visit and all our homes welcome well-behaved dogs (on lead) to come in and visit at any time. There is such joy in hearing residents’ stories of the dogs and other animals they have owned throughout their lives. Reminiscing about past pets and the joy that they bought is always a lovely memory.”
Overcoming pet adoption barriers with Dog Adoption Events
One of the major barriers to pet adoption is the lack of access to pounds and rescue centers, often due to distance or transportation constraints. To overcome this challenge, Pound Paws not only hosts an online rescue pet search engine, but also organises Dog Adoption Events, bringing dogs available for adoption from various rescue groups directly to the public.
As part of the collaboration with BUPA Aged Care, Pound Paws is launching Dog Adoption Events at BUPA Aged Care facilities, beginning with BUPA Clayton in Victoria on 5 August 2023. These events are open to the public to attend with a variety of fun activities for all ages. And hopefully, there will be a special connection made between rescue pets and residents at Bupa Aged Care.
Ms Grimmer is unsure if a resident will want to adopt a pet, “but who knows!” she said.
“My hope is we’re able to find as many homes for rescue dogs as possible!”
Ms Bloomer said, “Running Dog Adoption Events at Bupa Aged Care facilities present a fantastic opportunity to reach a new network of potential pet owners who are in desperate need of support and companionship, as well as a remarkable opportunity for the public to learn more about various rescue groups and their incredible work.”
Additionally, educational talks on stage cover a range of topics including Animal Communication, Pet Health and Responsible Pet Ownership. Pound Paws firmly believes that education is key to successful pet ownership.
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