We have been working with Happy Paws Happy Hearts for some time now and they support people who are socially isolated for various reasons to re-engage in the community and with their own lives through learning to train rescue dogs. Through them, I heard about the work of the highly accomplished Professor Nancy Pachana at the University of Queensland. Her work as a psychologist is focused on aged care but she began volunteering at the RSPCA recently and learnt about the Five Freedoms. This is a set of principles that guides the environment that the RSPCA creates for animals in their care. Nancy compared these Five Freedoms to the environment she has observed over many years in aged care facilities and asks us all the hard questions about why these freedoms often aren’t available to the elderly in care. See what you think:
Freedom 1 – freedom from hunger or thirst
Freedom 2 – freedom from discomfort
Freedom 3 – freedom from pain injury or disease
Freedom 4 – freedom to express normal behaviour
Freedom 5 – freedom from fear and distress
Whilst these all seem reasonable, you would think, Nancy reports that 40-70% of aged care residents are malnourished or dehydrated. The recent royal commission into aged care can provide you with the rest of the chilling picture. So I echo Nancy’s simple but profound suggestion that we seek to afford our elders with the same Five Freedoms that the RSPCA work so hard to offer to animals in their care. For the full article, see Too Old for Freedom, Not Too Late to Try.