Until recently, most aged care organisations did not allow pets, which meant residents had to give up their beloved dogs or cats when they moved in. In recent years, pet-friendly aged care organisations have become much more popular, due to the unique benefits pets have for residents and staff alike.
Key Benefits of Becoming a Pet Friendly Aged Care Organisation
If you are on the fence about whether or not to open up your own aged care organisation to pets, here are four major benefits to keep in mind:
Pets Combat Loneliness for Older People
As we move into our later years, many of us become widowed and lose beloved friends and family. This results in many members of the aging population feeling lonely and isolated, which is directly linked to depression and anxiety. The social benefits of moving into an aged care facility are great for combating this loneliness, and these positive effects are only enhanced and strengthened by the addition of pets.
Pets provide mutual affection, touch, and companionship to lonely older people, while also providing them with a sense of purpose and responsibility. They also provide easy conversation starters and social opportunities (such as group dog walks), leading to even more social ties, further engagement, and greatly reduced loneliness.
Pet Ownership Improves Health
Considering that many people move into aged care organisations due to health concerns, the health benefits of pet ownership are particularly important. Various studies have shown pet ownership to have clear and definite health benefits for people of all ages, but especially for older people.
Here are some of the major health benefits of pet ownership that can help your residents feel better and require less medical intervention and medication:
- Increased aerobic activity due to walking and playing with pets leads to better cardiovascular health.
- Lower blood pressure
- Fewer instances of cold and flu
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Reduced need for doctor's visits
- increased motivation regarding self care practices
- More regulated and stable heart rate
Pets Provide a Connection to Residents' Old Lives
Transitioning from living independently in one's own home to life in an aged care facility is a huge change for anyone. Even in a very nice, well-managed facility the initial disruption to a resident's environment and routine can be a shock to the system, and some residents have an especially difficult time adapting to this change. When residents are forced to give up their beloved pets, this transition can be much more challenging. By allowing pets, you will help residents feel a calming sense of continuity from their old life to their new circumstances. They can continue to walk, feed, and play with their pets as they've always done, and most will derive immense comfort from this.
Becoming Pet-Friendly Boosts Morale for Staff
While having pets on-site provides many benefits for residents, it would be a mistake to overlook how beneficial this change can be for staff as well. Having pets around raises the overall environment, adds a sense of joy, and boosts morale. As residents become more content, engaged, healthy, and happy due to the presence of animals, your staff's jobs will become easier as a pleasant side effect. In fact, just being around and having the chance to pet dogs and cats has been shown to lower stress and anxiety and bring a greater sense of peace, which can translate to a happier and less stressed out staff.
For more helpful tips for aged care organisation management and leadership, be sure to check our blog regularly. To learn more about our aged care facility training videos and how they can help you build a better informed and more engaged team, contact us today.