Case Study
Noel and his dog Barney

When NoNoel and Barneyel Donovan (89) had to move to an aged care home, he missed the companionship of his mate Barney. So the Freemason Homes agreed to allow the little dog to stay with Noel during the day.

“When he wasn’t there, I missed him” says Noel. “He now sleeps on the bed. I sleep on the chair”.

Leisure and Lifestyle Assistant Judi Johnstone said everyone enjoyed Barney’s visits and staff were happy to see the pair reunited. “It’s very important, so important. If Noel couldn’t have Barney here, he wouldn’t cope. It’s his whole world” says Judi.

Barney is dropped off by family members in the morning and is picked up late in the day. It’s an arrangement that works well for Noel’s family, for staff and importantly for Noel and Barney.

 

Pets are a vitally important component of most peoples lives, and that shouldn't cease once they enter an aged care setting. The joy that pets bring to residents is undeniable, it is the honesty of the interaction with pets that is most heart warming.

Marana Gardens, Southport QLD

When you get older, all that seems to happen is you have to give up things - work, home, mobility, health, loved ones and friends. This program allows our residents to hang on to something - their pet - which is usually their best friend and they can bring them with them during this scary and emotional period in their lives.

Raeleen, Kingscliffe NSW

Pets are an essential part of our model of care. Obviously we still have to assess a pet's suitability before we can accept them with their owner and ensure the resident or their family can help look after the pet. We also have to keep the balance for those residents who may not be as amenable to indoor pets. It can be a juggling act at times but every resident is well aware of our pet-friendly policy before they move in and 99% love it.

Feros Village, Bangalow

For those people who have always had pets, a home without pets is not a home at all and surely it is the atmosphere of a home that is the ideal we should strive to provide.

Alice, Coffs Harbour NSW

Night duty staff often bring their dogs and share them with restless residents overnight. Our receptionist has her dog here daily and he has been "on staff " for six years.

Name withheld, NSW

Residents are encouraged to have their family member bring their pets to visit. Pets are allowed in any part of the facility other than the dining room. The RAO takes the facility cat to visit residents in their rooms. The residents take responsibility for feeding the animals.

We have had dogs in the past, but with the decline in health of our Elders, the exercising was becoming hard to do. Also dogs started to rely on certain staff members and ignored our Elders. Cats are more self reliant on finding the Elders they like and are more independent in this. The birds are cared for by volunteers, but Elders talk to them. We also had chickens for over a year.

Dutch Care, Kilsyth

One lady was able to have her pet cat stay in her room. She has a balcony attached to her room which her family have enclosed to keep the cat from running away so the cat can get some fresh air.

Cassie, Summerhill SA

We have had companion pets living in our residential facilities for nearly 20 years, we have seen them support people through the palliative process and cannot emphasise enough how important they are.

Gillian, Mt Gambier, SA

We’ve had a facility cat, who was very successful, because of his personality. Even residents who were adverse to the idea of having a cat warmed to him. Our cat fitted in beautifully and we were sorry to lose him.

Name withheld, VIC

For staff in aged care, it is a highly demanding occupation and the same applies to pets working in this industry. The pets need familiar routine and environment to remain settle and adjusted.

Name withheld, SA

We will try to accommodate prospective resident's pets where there is an emotional dependence on the pet and the animal is suitable to live in the facility. ie is friendly and does not bite, is house trained etc. We also encourage people to bring animals to visit and promote this actively where possible.

Name withheld, WA

Each animal has a probation period to determine behaviour, ability to live in shared housing and capacity of resident/carers to care for the animal/s. We have a designated dog yard and outdoor space which is conducive to animals and encourage visits from staff's pets. Some live in rural areas so goats, horses, alpacas are not unfamiliar in our facility.

Glenview, TAS

To enable residents to bring in pets into a facility would need to include a safe environment for all concerned. Some of the questions that arise are: Who would exercise the pets if required? Who would clean up after the pets? How do we vet pets for temperament? What restrictions would need to be included to ensure safety? It would be lovely if this could be achieved.

Name withheld, SA

I believe animals create a more natural, homelike environment for residents to live in, staff to work in and relatives to visit. They provide an external focus and a common language for all people, including those living with dementia and from different cultural backgrounds.

Name withheld, Croydon, NSW

It is normal for people living in the community to have pets. We should provide the same opportunities to those that live in residential care albeit with some level of compromise due to the nature of communal living arrangements.

Name withheld, VIC

Many of our staff and residents are pet lovers and believe this makes for a pleasant working environment.

Jodie, Frankston VIC

"During Occupational Therapy interview the majority of Residents mention having pets or being involved with animals at some point in their lives. The loving communication between a person and an animal is beyond words. We value the importance of these nurturing relationships.

Buckley Caring Centre WA

We have two live in dogs at the moment. We specialise in Dementia Care (ie Person first dementia second) centred care. Clients who bring in their pets have a much better quality of life and diminished behaviours. Clients on respite are also encouraged to bring in their pets. We believe parts are an integral part of a person’s life and this should be continued into the Care environment.

BUPA Kempsey NSW

I believe pets are what makes our village feel like "home".

Ideally the decision for a facility to accommodate companion animals should be a joint one made by residents about type, size, care and cost. There should be clear guidelines which outline who will train, feed, medicate and exercise the animal and how its upkeep will be afforded. (This includes the maintenance of medication charts when prescribed treatment must be administered.) Veterinary supervision and care is also part of the deal. Although this sounds like hard work, it succeeds.

Dutch Care, Kilsyth

Some of the units are much better suited for residents to move in with their pets than others (more space/private yards etc). We try to accommodate as many as possible and to ensure that the residents aren't going to be forced to get rid of their pets. I ensure their right to have their pet is written into the contract because I think it’s so very important.

Name withheld, SA

We have two live in dogs at the moment. We specialise in Dementia Care ie Person first, dementia second, person centred care. Clients who bring in their pets have a much better quality of life and diminished behaviours. Clients on respite are also encouraged to bring in their pets.

BUPA Kempsey

Recently we had a case where a client would not enter respite care unless he could bring his dog. This sounded daunting for a short period but we proceeded to admit the man and his dog. It worked brilliantly. The man had a great time and the obese dog lost weight with more walks and a controlled diet. The dog continued to sleep on his owner's bed as he would at home. Man and dog were not separated. This proved to be an incentive for the man to make the huge decision to leave home to receive short term care in alternative premises.

Alexis, VIC

I have worked in other facilities where pets were permitted and it was a great source of companionship to the resident owners, no doubt impacting positively on their well being.

You always need to have the 'treat police' on hand to try and stop too many treats being given by everyone. We have a jar of low fat treats.

Our village pets have designated living/sleeping areas, pet care plans, pet doors in various locations, volunteers who walk them daily, respite care with staff so that they get some down time away from busy village life. Our interview process for staff involves confirming that they are prepared to care for the animals and that they accept them as part of everyday life at the villages.

Name withheld, NSW

We try to accommodate residents coming into the home if they still have an animal living with them (we even had a white cockatoo at one stage...!) We also encourage families to bring in the loved pet to visit if either that animal cannot remain in the facility, or it was decided it was to stay at home with the partner. We establish a "care plan" for the pet, maintaining yearly vet checks and identifying who is taking care of the day to day needs of the animal.

Name withheld, VIC

The residents who are pet lovers miss the opportunity to experience the unconditional love that is given to them by their pets. The joy of touch, friendship and companionship is lacking when they have to leave their pets behind.

Virginia, Wallsend NSW

As people lose their lifetime partners they can struggle with living alone and a pet seems to give them comfort at this time...a purpose to keep going.

Wendy, VIC

Ideally the decision for a facility to accommodate companion animals should be a joint one made by residents about type, size, care and cost. There should be clear guidelines which outline who will train, feed, medicate and exercise the animal and how its upkeep will be afforded. This includes the maintenance of medication charts when prescribed treatment must be administered. Veterinary supervision and care is also part of the deal.

Alexis, VIC