Positive Ageing in the Company of Animals – the ultimate human need for unconditional love

Older people, unable to take their companion animals with them when moving into aged-care accommodation are often forced to say goodbye to their four-legged friends. Many who enter an aged-care facility grieve constantly and deeply for their beloved pet left behind. Outcomes vary for the animals involved. Some are re-homed within the wider family or beyond, others are surrendered to a shelter and some are euthanased.

For aged-care providers it can be a difficult policy challenge. How can  facilities support human-animal interactions in a way that is safe, sensitive and sustainable?

What is AWLA doing?

AWLA is working with aged care experts to find ways of preserving the bond between people and pets in aged care accommodation. Successful models will ensure the welfare of pets as well as their people. Solutions are available, with good models already operating in Australia and beyond. With pets raising our happiness quotient and health grades, making it easier for people of all ages and stages to keep pets makes good sense.

Gail Munro has been successful in finding aged care accommodation that welcomes her dog Timothy. Read Gail’s story Gail and Timothy, Happy Together

Aged care accommodation providers are encouraged to fill out our online survey by clicking here.


AWLA’s project is called Positive Ageing in the Company of Animals  – the ultimate human need for unconditional love

The project will produce a national statistical base on pets in aged care accommodation, provide an accurate on-line resource for older persons with pets, promote and share pet-friendly policies and provide information for providers and aged-care support services.

Why is this important?

  • It will provide information increasingly sought by a range of stakeholders – individuals, aged care facilities, governments, animal agencies, architects and developers
  • The database will form the basis of a catalyst for change as aged facilities network and share successful models
  • It creates a new much-needed knowledge by means of grounded research not conducted in Australia before
  • It is beneficial at an individual level and at a societal level by contributing to the health and well-being of the aged
  • It will promote opportunities for improved physical and mental health for older Australians, for which there is considerable and growing evidence
  • It will contribute to strategies that aim to reduce the rates of unnecessary euthanasia of healthy companion animals

How will it work?

Each Australian residential aged care facility will be contacted through their support organisation or peak body.

The aim is for 80 per cent response rate, achievable with the co-operation of support organisations.

Responses will be collated and entered into a database, and subsequently published and circulated.

The data will define types of aged care accommodation and numbers of each type.

Facilities will be invited to provide their perceptions on pets in their facility and information on existing pet policies.

The website

http://petfriendlyagedcare.com.au for a simple-to-use website for aged care providers and older pet owners.

http://petfriendlyagedcare.com.au provides resources, policies, case studies and successful models for aged care providers seeking to keep older people and their pets together. The site also provides listings of pet-friendly facilities in each state, in both retirement and residential care settings.

The website is a milestone in Animal Welfare League Australia’s Positive Ageing in the Company of Animals Project. The project has involved over twelve months of liaison with aged care providers and residents to gather a wealth of information, guidelines and models for incorporating pets in aged care.

The site fills an information gap for aged care providers and older pet owners. A national resource like this has not been compiled before, despite the growing demand for pet-friendly retirement and residential aged care facilities.

AWLA is seeking to grow the number of pet-friendly listings on www.petfriendlyagedcare.com.au and invite pet-friendly aged care facilities to add their listing. Contact Anne at aboxhall@awla.com.au or phone 0423 924 880.

Listen to Oaktree residents talk about pets in retirement villages  (August 2013)

How can you help?

  • Work with us – share your experiences and information
    Email info@awla.com.au
  • Follow the media conversation here
  • Raise the topic with politicians in your state – click here for the list
  • If you are talking with aged care providers, let them know you prefer accommodation which allows your pet to stay with you
  • Indicate you will be happier and healthier for longer with your pet by your side – you are likely to cost your aged-care provider less in on-going care services