The research is clear: having pets is good for you. That’s true whether you’re 30, or one of the 50 per cent of Australians aged over 65 who own a pet. But what if you’re at the latter end of the age spectrum, and caring for your pet on your own is getting too much?
In 2018 only nine per cent of home care providers offered pet services, according to research by Animal Welfare League Australia (AWLA). There’s reason to hope more home care services around Australia are becoming pet-friendly, helping you and your pet stay together for longer.
What is home care?
Home care service providers around Australia provide affordable assistance to seniors living independently. You can choose these providers through My Aged Care when you have a Home Care Package (HCP) or Commonwealth Home Support Package (CHSP). To register for these packages, call My Aged Care.
However, the My Aged Care online directory of service providers has no category for pet services. This means there is no single register to direct you to pet friendly home care services. Because pet support isn’t government funded or recognised, many providers offer it as a separate fee.
AWLA’s Pets In Aged Care Project Officer Adriana Mainas says more must be done to make home pet support services more accessible. “I think some pet-friendly services may be able to be captured under certain categories”, Mrs Mainas said.
“But there’s certainly work to be done to actually have home care packages that allow people to claim for the maintenance of their animals as well.”
Canberra home care provider Northside Community Service has managed to slip through the cracks. Its pet service PAWS provides dog walking, grooming, and vet appointment transport, all as part of its HCP or CHSP services. You’d have to know what you’re looking for to find it. It’s on the My Aged Care provider directory as Northside Community Services, under the social support or domestic assistance search categories.
How to find pet-friendly home care
Because My Aged Care doesn’t recognise pet support services offered by home care providers, you’ll have to do your research. Many service providers do what they can to support their home care clients with pets.
“Aged care service providers are in general becoming more pet friendly.”
“Aged care service providers are in general becoming more pet friendly,” Mrs Mainas said. “I think they see that there is a need, and they all want to differentiate in the marketplace because it is such a competitive industry.”
Mrs Mainas recommends calling providers and asking what pet friendly services they deliver. Some services may only offer dog walking, while others may offer services like grooming and transport to vet appointments.
AWLA is working on a program for pet friendly home care and residential services. Subject to approval, this may come online this year.