Tasmania and South Australia have the most aged care facilities that allow residents to have pets, but the pet-friendly status in all states is unknown for at least half of residential homes, according to a new report.
The Pets in Aged Care National Snapshot from Animal Welfare League Australia brings together information from AWLA’s six-member organisations and data from an online audit of 2,933 aged care facilities across the country undertaken by The Stafford Group.
More than 7 per cent of animal owner transfers to one of AWLA’s centres in 2015-2016 were due to elderly-related reasons such as the owner’s health or the owner moving to an aged care facility that is not pet-friendly.
The report shows that 18 per cent of facilities nationally consider allowing pets, but there is wide variation between the states.
Tasmania had the greatest number of facilities that considered allowing pets (35 per cent) followed by South Australia (32 per cent), Western Australia (22 per cent), Queensland (20 per cent) and New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory and Victoria (14 per cent).
Tasmania also had the greatest number of facilities that were not pet-friendly (15 per cent) closely followed by SA and WA (11 per cent), NSW/ACT (10 per cent), Queensland (6 per cent) and Victoria (5 per cent).
Victoria had the largest number of facilities where it is unclear whether pets are allowed (81 per cent) followed by NSW/ACT (76 per cent), Queensland (74 per cent), WA (67 per cent), SA (58 per cent) and Tasmania (50 per cent).
Despite less than one in five facilities considering allowing residents to keep their pet, a third of facilities nationally have a “shared pet” for all residents. This is most common in Queensland (39 per cent) followed by Victoria (37 per cent), WA (34 per cent), Tasmania and SA (32 per cent), and NSW/ACT (27 per cent).
To increase the number of pet-friendly facilities, AWLA president Richard Mussell said aged care providers could better understand the benefits of pet ownership and the positive impact that pets have on wellbeing.
Care facilities can also “develop processes that help residents keep existing pets and get new ones,” Mr Mussell told Australian Ageing Agenda.
Physical changes to accommodate issues around containment can also be implemented, such as installing cat doors, he said.
There is no current legislation that regulates pet care in aged care facilities at a state or federal level, however individual aged care providers have made their own regulations for pet care.
Pet-friendly aged care facilities are required to follow animal welfare guidelines provided by their own state.
“Companion animal laws differ from state to state,” Mr Mussell said.
- 22 per cent of residential facilities nationally allow family and friends to bring pets when they visit, a policy most likely in Tasmania (47 per cent) and least likely in NSW/ACT (15 per cent).
- 24 per cent of residential facilities nationally offer a visiting pets program, which are most common among Tasmanian facilities (51 per cent) and least common among WA homes (16 per cent).
- 9 per cent of in-home care providers nationally offer a pet-friendly service, found most common in NSW/ACT (14 per cent) and least in both SA and WA (4 per cent).
Read the full snapshot here.
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