PET SUPPORT: PAPA president Jan Phillips with her dogs Kirsty and Mintie.
PET SUPPORT: PAPA president Jan Phillips with her dogs Kirsty and Mintie. Di Johnstone

Pets and Positive Ageing: Staying together for longer

KEEPING older Australians and their pets together is the goal of the national lobby group Pets and Positive Ageing, which is the first of its kind.

The voluntary organisation is a specialised advocacy group that is helping to find ways for domestic pets to stay with their elderly owners at home or in retirement villages, in hostels, at independent living units and in low-care areas of nursing.

President Jan Phillips said the Canberra-based organisation realised from very early days that pets and aging was a national issue.

Since 2012 it has confronted and challenged the issues surrounding when older Australians need to move to supported accommodation and the vexing problem of what to do with their pets, which can at times stop people from making the choice of moving to more suitable accommodation.

Ms Phillips said PAPA continually engages with several animal welfare and in-home pet support programs across Australia, providing them access to a resource-rich website and pet-friendly accommodation information flyers and organising events on pets and positive aging issues.

Its community consultations have led PAPA to offer "practical initiatives such as promotion of support services in other states, holding public forums on key issues, talking to key senior groups and service providers and mentoring community organisations looking to emulate the PAPA programs,” Ms Phillips said.

The group's newest campaign is focused on pet support becoming one of the standard services offered to Home and Community Care clients within home care packages.

Other PAPA projects on the table for 2017 are developing advice on end-of-life for pets, promoting the use of emergency or home alone contact cards and opening discussions on taking dogs into public places and onto public transport.

For more information on the group, go to www.petsandpositiveageing.com.

(This is the first story in a series on Pets and Positive Ageing.)


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