Have you heard of The Cinnamon Trust?
33 years ago Averil Jarvis took her dog for a stroll along the Towans dunes near Hayle, Cornwall. It was a dog walk that would change her and many other people’s lives.
Along the way Averil met another dog walker. She mentioned about how worried she was because she had no family and was worried that pets would be put to sleep when she died. From this, she discovered the Cinnamon Trust, the national charity dedicated dealing with pet problems faced by the elderly and terminally ill.
Since it opened its doors 30 years ago, the trust and its network of more than 12,000 volunteers who have helped more than 250,000 people and 300,000 animals from aiding with vet visits, grooming and walking dogs for those in need. They even help with rehoming pets when their owners pass away or move into residential care homes that will not accept animals. Dogs and cats are the bulk of the pets they usually work with, but they will deal with all animals.
National network of volunteers
The trust’s primary objective is to preserve the treasured relationship between the owners and pets.
Caring for the pets is about more than animal welfare, it helps pet owners too. It is now widely acknowledged that pets can positively benefit the well-being of owners and for many elderly people living on their own, their pets are the reason for living. They are companions that there every day, comforting, loving and protecting their owners from not only outside threats but the more subtle form of protection from loneliness.
The special relationship between the owner and the pet can add to the quality of life, however all these benefits are overlooked by the anxiety regarding the fate of their companion should the owner die, fall ill or have to move to a home.
Encouraging pet-friendly care homes
Encouraging residential care homes to be more animal friendly is part of the trust’s mission and one way it is trying to encourage homes to embrace residents’ companions is through its register of pet-friendly care homes. Currently, this lists 1,430 homes that have invited the trust to come in and judge whether they qualify as pet-friendly.
There will always be a difference between being ‘pet friendly’ and merely pet tolerant. If an elderly pet owner is too frail to stay in their own home and has to leave behind everything they’ve ever known, having also to be separated from their much loved and needed pet is not only hugely traumatic but quite honestly unnecessary. The best homes will help the resident to look after their pet and if/when the resident’s condition deteriorates, they will take over pet care full-time so that the resident and pet are able to stay together. Should the pet pass away whilst the owner is in the home, the resident can have another pet if they wish.
Work with social workers
Outside of residential care, the trust does work with social workers on a case by case basis but most of the time service users contact them directly.
At present the understanding of the importance of pets among social services is very varied. Usually as soon as social services realise that the trust are there to help and will take away some of the responsibility of care, then this is passed to the trust to deal with and they are finding it increasingly difficult to get back in touch with the office to find extra help or support. This is something the trust is working on improving as being able to maintain contact would help with long-term updates.
For more information on The Cinnamon Trust and what they do, check out their website at http://www.cinnamon.org.uk/