With rising competition and the proven increase in demand for health care, every residential health care developer, designer, commissioner or director should be considering means to make their home more attractive for the potential resident. Much research has recently taken place regarding the actual benefits of residents being allowed or even encouraged to take their pets into their homes. A recent article on ‘Genealogy Information’ by Raymond Nwambuonwo stated that 40,000 pets a year are put to sleep as their owners are having to go into care homes. Just imagine suddenly losing your freedom and independence and then your beloved family pet. Consider at this stage the elderly person and their family would be looking for the most appropriate home…
However, the health benefits of owning a dog are known and for older people it is especially true. As well as lowering blood pressure and promoting exercise they also promote a feeling of well being that comes from loving and being loved in return. Therefore if the health benefits are proven why do residential homes not allow the pets? The main concerns are:-
- Disease or illness through animal contact or poor hygiene
- Legalities related to the above
- The danger of accidents with the ever increasing personal injury claims
- Design of the homes to cater for the animals in relation to all of the above, plus ensuring the safety and satisfaction of the other residents and staff
Building Construction Partnership as experts in design, development and build of residential care homes, prides itself on always being ahead of the market place and noted that in many other European Countries such as France, Spain, Greece and even the USA homes have been created to cater for pet ownership. With reflection upon the health benefits to the prospective resident and the raised attractiveness of their care home to the owners, they have researched into what changes or considerations should be taken when ‘opening the doors’ to pet care. However, the answers turned out to be simple commen sense and many care homes are already running securely, hygienically and safely homing a variety of pets.
Investigating further we discovered ‘The Cinnamon Trust’, the only specialist national charity for elderly and terminally ill people and their pets, offer a fantastic support system to Care Homes and Retirement Housing. Speaking to the Chief Executive; Mrs Averil Jarvis MBE, she stated that they have a list of almost a thousand care homes that cater for pets on their register, and this is rapidly increasing due to demand.
“Once a care home registers with us this information is available, free, to potential clients via telephone, email or postal service. Once registered with us we send a welcome pack to the owners/managers with lots of information, plus we are at the end of phone for them should they require any assistance with pet care or advice. Our aims are achieved by tasking a national network of over 14,000 volunteers to provide any assistance required including walking dogs and pet fostering”.
“Our ‘Pet Profiling’ is another important aspect for owners/managers to be aware of. People of any age may profile their pets with The Trust, ensuring that should they predecease their pet we would take their pet into our care. This is particularly reassuring for elderly and infirm people with pets, but of course none of us ever knows what is going to happen. Once a pet is in our care he/she becomes a Cinnamon Trust Pet and we will be responsible for their welfare and happiness for the rest of their lives”.
“We at the Cinnamon Trust recognise hygiene and security can be a concern with exceedingly high standards but the majority is pure common sense and part of the standard procedures that take place in any care home. We have a Care Home on our register, that has recently been awarded 5 stars with ourselves and 5 stars with the Environmental Health society. This home has several dogs in residence”.
The Cinnamon Trust would be very happy to hear from potential care homes/retirement homes and discuss any pet issues with them.
Regarding the design and build of the building, if you are wishing to encourage pets such as dogs, then it is preferable to have ground floor rooms with access to secure outside areas. If you are planning a new build, refurbishment or extension this could be part of the initial consideration for increased marketability. Another concern could be catering for pets in homes where people have dementia. Simple solutions such as alarms or even bells on external doors can be implemented for added security.
If you would like more information related to Caring for Pets in your residence whether a new build, extension or refurbishment contact Building Construction Partnership on their FREE support service on: 0800 019 9750
or email: firstname.lastname@example.org in full confidentiality