Why pets are so important in aged care

Most of us can attest to the positive influence pets can have on our lives. The physical and mental benefits of having an animal friend are hard to ignore. But what happens when we get older, and can no longer care for ourselves or our pets?

That’s where Companion Animal Network Australia (CANA) comes in. An advocacy group specifically for pets (as opposed to wild or farm animals), CANA exists to fill the lobbying gap on behalf of pets and their owners.

Trish Ennis, CEO of CANA, joined host John Deeks on this week’s YourLifeChoices podcast to talk about the advocacy work the group has been doing making pets part of aged care.

“Companion Animal Network Australia is like the peak body for pets,” she says.

“Whereas you’ve got RSPCA that look after all animals and animal issues, we focus strictly on pets and the human animal bond.”

Pets in rental properties

One of the biggest issues CANA has been involved in recently is pushing state governments to enact rental laws that prohibit renters having a pet. Ms Ennis adds CANA helps tenants prepare for applications with their pet.

“We’ve changed rental laws in a lot of the states to allow people to take their pets. We have even written pet resumes and things that people can download from the website,” she says.

A pet resume? Surely she can’t be serious, John asks. But Ms Ennis says a resume for your furry friend can help get your application over the line and separate it from the rest.

“So, the best thing to do to boost your chances is to have a pet resume that outlines everything about your pet, get some references from your current neighbours, family, as you would for yourself.

“Especially with the rental shortages at the moment, you don’t want having a pet to be an issue.”

Pets in aged care

Taking their companion animal advocacy even further, CANA is now pushing for costs and services relating to pets to be included in aged care packages.

Ms Ennis says CANA wants pets included as part of both residential and at-home care packages.

“We’re trying to convince residential care places to allow people to take their pets with them,” she says.

“We’ve worked very closely together to do the policies, regulations and everything. It’s all ready for residential places to be able to take them. All they need to do is contact us and we’ll give you all the material.”

CANA also wants pets included in at-home care package funding, which is currently under scrutiny in the review of the Aged Care Act (ACA).

“Because of the change in the ACA that’s happening at the moment, we have been lobbying and lobbying for having pet support in the home care packages, says Ms Ennis.

She explains the ACA recognises the right of an aged care recipient to have a companion animal but that changes need to be made to allow home care providers to take on clients with animals, which they currently can’t.

What that pet-related support looks like however, is still a little up in the air, but Ms Ennis suggests it could take the form of subsidies for services provided.

“Even if it was co-payments, to help people take the pet for a dog walk or to have someone take the pet to a vet,” Ms Ennis says.

“At least it would be recognised in the packages whether the person pays for it [initially] or the government pays for it.

Do you think people have a right to have a pet in aged care? Should the government pay for it? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Also read: Noel Whittaker on the move to a world without cash and cheques

Brad Lockyer
Brad Lockyerhttps://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/bradlockyer/
Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.
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