Pet support in home and in residential aged care is vital

Bernice is a 79-year-old resident of Glen Waverley, Victoria and a lifelong cat lover. She shares her experience with the Commonwealth Home Support LinkPETS and Community Visitors Scheme programs, provided by Link Health and Community.
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I have always loved cats. Most of my cats have lived to a long age. My rescue cat Jade came into my care as a kitten and passed away when she was 15. As an adult, I choose to adopt older cats that could manage around my lack of mobility and not get in the way. These rescues were all great, all with their own different personalities.

I have been getting support since 2014 from the Commonwealth Home Support LinkPETS program.

When I lived alone at home, I had two regular volunteers who visited me and assisted with cleaning up Jade’s eating area and changing her litter tray. They also spent time sharing stories, building a friendship and connecting me with the community. When Jade passed away, I was so happy one of the LinkPETS volunteers, Nicola, would continue to visit me.

I later met another volunteer, a qualified pet therapist named Sue who would visit me regularly with her Pet Therapy dogs to ease my grief and loneliness.

In 2021, I moved into an aged care facility due to my increased health needs. Through the Commonwealth Community Visitors Scheme -- also run by Link Health and Community -- I have been able to continue receiving support with regular visits at the facility from the volunteer’s Pet Therapy dogs and her new Pet Therapy cat, Ollie. I am thrilled!

All the LinkPETS volunteers provided me with lots of interesting conversations as well as the practical assistance of helping me with my cats and their care over the years whilst I was living in my own home.

The connection I have made with the volunteers during this time helped me to stay in touch with the community around me through our shared experience of life, work and education.
After losing my cat Jade, I continued to enjoy the company of Nicola and Sue with her Pet Therapy dogs who came to visit me regularly. I would look forward to this time. The dogs played in the backyard whilst we would chat, showed me their tricks and singing talent. But what I enjoyed the most was the cuddles on the couch and the company of both Sue and the dogs – as any animal lover would know!

Being unable to have a pet of my own due to health reasons has been difficult, but with the assistance of the LinkPETS program and the regular company of my volunteers, I have been able to continue to enjoy that special part of my life.

Since leaving my home and moving into an aged care facility I have been fortunate to continue my friendship with Sue and see her Pet Therapy dogs and cat, Ollie. So I am once again able to indulge in my true love of cats. The service and support I receive from both these programs, as an animal lover and previous pet owner, gives me something to look forward to and is the highlight of my day.

Bernice , VIC

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