Has the thought ever crossed your mind about extra income…

December 1st, 2014

It was just over two years ago that I was just scrolling down the computer screen reading some FaceBook posts when I noticed a small advert that caught my eye and I was immediately compelled to stop and to enlarge the ad and read the promotional blurb.

The ad was from a crowd called AirBNB (1) and they were offering in a nutshell a way whereby if you had a spare bedroom you could rent out the room via their group for as long or as short a time as you would like and they would look after the extra income payment side, for a minimal charge.

As we were in that exact situation regarding our second bedroom, I decided to investigate their idea further with the end result being that we joined up, and have experienced the pleasure of hosting over 70 individuals and couples to date since then. (2)

In doing this one of the things that we did discover is that insurance companies tend to see the involvement that an individual has through having paid guests staying with them being viewed differently than if your own friends stayed with you.

In order to protect ourselves I sought the advice of our son in law who happens to be an insurance broker and as a result of that chat we took out extra cover at a low monthly fee and now we find ourselves relaxing in the knowledge that should anything untoward happen that we have protected ourselves from unnecessary pain and possible financial loss.

The following is a brief summary of the way public liability insurance can protect you against claims resulting from accidents or injuries that could occur as result of your business activities as an AirBNB host:

Personal Injury to people who rent the rooms – slip / trip type claims, example a guest slips oiver and breaks there leg and suddenley you are up for thousands of dollars of medical expenses as you are the responsible party around OH&S.

Theft – Theft of you own valuables and also theft of guests items – passports, credit cards, valuables.

Property Damage – Property Damage to Guests items, laptops, ipads, phones etc.

On top of that there is also the normal exposures around any business risk that would apply – Fire – destroying of guests items in the event of a fire, flood or water / Storm damage.

Also if you as the owner are providing food which somehow becomes contaminated and food poising occurs as a result, your guest could require medical attention and may possibly sue.

Thankfully, our son in law through his business AG Insurance has a tailored Business Package set up with a top 2 Global Insurer that has a very broad policy coverage and World Class claims services: (3)

Coverage is provided as follows:

Cover for others
Loss/Damage of goods
Injury or Damage caused by your products
First aid expenses at the time of an incident
Sudden and Accidental Pollution
Watercraft owned and operated by others and used by you for business entertainment
Your legal costs

So there it is, if you ever have the thought cross your mind about extra income and being able to use your second bedroom to allow paying guests to stay with you, then I believe that considering joining the AirBNB network would be a great start.

Should you decide to proceed, then may I strongly recommend that you also consider taking out public liability insurance, just to be on the safe side.

Graeme Brattle
Co Founder Where there is a Will (4)

(1) https://www.airbnb.com

(2) https://www.airbnb.com.au/rooms/378982

(3) Aaron Green, Insurance Specialist
AG Insurance Services
Ph: 0477122109
Address : Suite 2, 651-653 Victoria Street , Abbotsford, VIC 3121
Website: www.ag-insurance-services.com
Email: aaron@ag-insurance-services.com

(4) http://www.wherethereisawill.com.au

The art of living well and the art of dying well are one – Epicurus

November 7th, 2014

It’s some seven years since my dad dies. But some elements of his final days will remain vivid memories till my final days. Because he lived well, he died well.

Of particular note, was the fact that, as a family, there was no unfinished business to be completed.

When dad was diagnosed with lung cancer, his affairs and life were in order and there were no unresolved family issues. This created a lot of liberty for us all, as we were able to simply focus on enjoying our last days as a family, as we knew it. The Oncologist predicted he had about 9 months to live.

Amazingly, that is how long dad lasted to within a few days. It was a really special time for us as a family, as we were able to just spend time with dad and reflect on our happy times spent with him. We also spent time expressing appreciation to him about the influence he had on our lives.

Even since dad’s death, I have often pondered on how challenging it must be for families who have unfinished business between family members. So many families have forgiveness and resentment that is left unattended to the final days of family members.

In one way, we were lucky to have a final chapter to write with dad, so we could prepare for his transition from us. But many families are void of this advantage. It is especially unfortunate when there is unfinished business and death of a family member is sudden and without preparation. Such a predicament must be heart wrenching, and often quite confronting. We can never be sure when the last breath will take place. But what we can be sure of, is that after it, there is no room for relationship preparation.

That being the case, the time to act is now.

For any who have unresolved family conflict, explore the opportunities for bringing about repair whilst you can. I can only imagine what it must be like for people who have apologies and forgiveness left unattended after a family death. Do it before it’s a crisis beyond repair. Do it whilst you can. Even if death is way off, the advantages can serve you well in your relationships.

The process of a dying loved one is quite confronting and for me was very challenging, emotionally. All my life I had had a dad. Then I entered a transition period that would transport me to a place where I no longer had a dad. But, I was so thankful that I had the emotional space to process this transition and I didn’t need to do any repair. I just got to spend time with him enjoying the time he had left with us.

Regardless of how far off you think separation from loved ones may be, do what you can to repair unfinished business. If it gets to be too late, you will live with regret. And if you repair your relationship/s, when death does approach, you can invest the time in positive interaction.

There is NO downside. Even if you need help, get it done.

Richard Paterson

Marketing Support ( www.wherethereisawill.com.au )

Owner/Operator ( www.missionaccomplished.com.au )

 

 

Return on effort – The need to take action!

June 18th, 2013

Today I set out on a lengthy (by my standards) bike ride. My bike was covered in dust and no doubt feeling quite unloved for several months. Before setting off, I checked the tyres. They were OK, kind of, but they will do. I had a ride to do, no time to deviate to the service station for air.

So, I set off on a beautiful sunny, mild day. I live on the Gold Coast, so in close proximity to some of the best beaches and coastline on the planet. I headed off to the bike track that runs right alongside the beach. It was just gorgeous riding in such perfect conditions, with exquisite scenery almost within arms reach.

However, it was hard work. Its so long since I have done any riding. I was tiring quickly. This was much harder work than I had remembered. But, I soldiered on in my inimitable, stoic manner. After 10 gruelling kilometres, I made it to my friend’s complex, ready for a swim, spa and steam room session. Boy, I couldn’t wait. I was so wrecked and exhausted. I knew I was out of shape fitness wise, but that was just hideously hard work.

We had our water time and it was time to head home. I was dreading the return trip, as I knew that being tired to begin with, I would find the return journey even more taxing.

But, I decided to deviate slightly to visit the service station and inject some air into my somewhat deflated tyres. Once stopped, I pumped up both tyres and was out, back on the road inside of 6 minutes. And you know what? Pedalling was so much easier! How can that be? I should be tired and struggling more than the ride there. But I found I was able to pedal much more freely and I was cycling at a much faster rate (still somewhat short of Olympic speeds, but an increase).

My newfound resistance reduction was sheer joy. For the same amount of effort on the way there, now with better tyre pressure, I was hooting along. Wow. This bike riding is such fun. I was loving it.

As I rode, I was hit with a life lesson. Sometimes attending to a small job can save massive effort afterwards. Granted, I had to stop riding to inflate my tyres, but I well and truly made up time from the increase in return on effort as I rode, now my tyres were pumped up properly.

What about stopping for a minute and investing a few minutes in registering where your Will details are kept? Imagine the effort this could save your family and loved ones once you are gone. It is only a small investment of your time now, but the return on your effort could be enormous. And the beauty of doing this is that you would be saving time and effort for your loved ones.

Enough from me now. Just log on to http://www.wherethereisawill.com.au/ and register your details. The small investment of effort will return huge dividends for your loved ones at a time when they will need as much relief as they can get.

Richard Paterson
Strategic Marketing and Promotions Manager
Where there is a Will

If you can’t afford Travel Insurance – You can’t afford to travel!

November 25th, 2012

IF YOU CAN’T AFFORD TRAVEL INSURANCE – YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO TRAVEL

Do check out the conditions and requirements as they relate to your own country as here in Australia overseas medical costs are not covered by the national health scheme Medicare. Likewise, the Australian Government will not pay for any medical treatment overseas or medical evacuation to Australia or a third country.

It is important to remember that travelers without travel insurance are personally liable for covering any medical and associated costs that they incur.

We strongly advise you to take out comprehensive travel insurance. Make sure it covers all medical expenses for injury or illness, as well as theft of valuables, damage to baggage and cancellations or interruptions to flight plans. It will save you worry and a possible financial burden.

Medical costs overseas can be in the tens of thousands of dollars and many people have been burdened financially in paying these costs when things go wrong.

If you are an Australian and thinking about travelling overseas then we also recommend that you take advantage of the following sites:

. Travel advice in relation to your destination (1)

. Subscribe to travel advice (2)

. To register your travel and contact details (3)
For any of our members who are residing overseas we also strongly recommend that you check out your own country’s information sites.

In addition to the above, we offer through our business site wherethereisawill (4) a Travel page in the Useful Links section of our business site to record the details of your next / current trip so that your loved ones can easily find out where you are, be able to assist with rescheduling of your trip or in an emergency be able to notify the appropriate Government agencies.

You may also want to take advantage of creating a ‘ Travel papers’ document as well, as in case of an emergency everyone will know where your important papers are at each stage of your trip, provided of course that you keep updating their location as it changes.

Again, our business site allows you the option to do this, and this information can be recorded in the ‘Document’ section of our site.

Our business also provides you with the ability to register any medication that you might be taking and then doing a print out of the record for keeping in your wallet or purse.

Graeme Brattle

Co Founder

Reference:

(1) Travel advice in relation to your destination – (http://www.smarttraveller.gov.au/zw=cgi/view/Advice/)

(2) Subscribe to travel advice (http://www.smarttraveller.gov.au/accounts)

(3) To register your travel and contact details (https://www.orao.dfat.gov.au/orao/weborao.nsf/Homeform?Openform)

(4) Our business site (http://www.wherethereisawill.com.au)

 

 

Prostate cancer – A lot more than just being a pain in the butt!

September 3rd, 2012

Here in Australia, it has been calculated that one in every eight men will develop prostate cancer and in fact according to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) there are currently more than 120,000 Australian males living with prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. As far as size goes it is about the size of a walnut and it’s purpose is to make fluid that forms part of the semen.

Possible indications of prostate cancer include a weak flow of urine or frequent urination, pain or burning during urination, blood in the urine or semen and also perhaps painful ejaculation. There are also other conditions that may cause the same symptoms and so it is always best to check with your doctor immediately you become aware that something is not quite right with your personal water works.

Learning that you have prostate cancer or in fact any cancer, can be quite a shock, and it is not unusual for you to feel overwhelmed at first and so the following general questions may help you to find out more and what to expect going forward.

The chance of recovery and treatment options available will depend on the stage of the cancer, your age and health and if the cancer has just been diagnosed or it has come back.

The following are some questions that you can ask your doctor upon finding out that you have cancer.

Questions about the cancer.

. What type of cancer do I have?
. Can you explain my test results to me, and will I require more tests before treatment can begin?
. What is the stage of my cancer and has it spread to other areas of my body?
.What is the chance of my recovery?
. How will the cancer and its treatment affect my body?

Questions about finding a specialist and/or getting a second opinion.

. How do I decide where to go for treatment?
. Will I in fact need a specialist (s) for my cancer treatment?
. Will you assist me to find another doctor to give me a second opinion on the best treatment plan for me?

Questions about clinical trials.

. Would a clinical trial (research study) be right for me?
. How can I find out about any studies for my type and stage of cancer?

Questions about lifestyle, finances and resources.

. How will my daily routine be affected, especially when it comes to work and any sporting activities?
. How can I get assistance if I begin to feel anxious or upset about having cancer, or if I think that I may need help in coping with family responsibilities?
. What costs will my insurance cover and who can best answer my questions in relation to paying for any treatment?
. How can I get help with any financial and legal issues (for example, getting financial assistance, preparing a will or an advance medical directive)?
. How can I get help with my spiritual needs?

And finally the big question, can you suggest a support group that might help me?

The good news is that here in Australia there are over 125 Prostate Cancer support groups, where you and your loved ones can get practical and emotional support.

Being part of such a group will allow you to find out about treatments that other people have experienced, be able to discuss possible side effects as well as ask about matters that may not have come up in your discussions with your doctor.

Another piece of good news is that almost half of Australian men who have been diagnosed with low risk prostate cancer can avoid surgery.

In winding up this blog, it would be remiss of me not to mention the web site www.wherethereisawill.com.au as being one that you may wish to check out. A good number of people have already found this site to be of great assistance in aiding them to sort out the important paper stuff of their lives that now can take on an importance that they had not previously considered, as until now, their life experience may not have previously warranted such consideration.

And finally, a point that is so worth remembering – Prostate cancer is not only a man’s disease; it’s a couples disease. Please do not try to play the martyr and tackle your condition on your own.

Graeme Brattle

References:

www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/prostate/Patient/pg1

www.prostate.org.au/articleLive/

www.wherethereisawill.com.au

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What is eHealth? Better still, why should I care!!

June 13th, 2012

‘eHealth is the combined use of electronic communication and information technology in the health sector’ – World Health Organisation.

Imagine having access to your personal health information, whenever you need it. Imagine all of your healthcare team having, with your permission, access to your health information when they need it.

It almost goes without saying that technology is part of daily life for most of us, one way or another. Whether we are at the checkout buying groceries using a card instead of cash, sending an email instead of posting a letter, or paying bills online instead of by cheque, the best uses of technology improves the quality and safety of the service being provided, while at the same time saving us time and money.

In the Australian healthcare system, people of all ages interact with technology when they visit their doctor, get a blood test or a scan, go to their chemist to fill a prescription, or spend time in hospital and
while our healthcare system here in Australia is among the best in the world, some of our ways of collecting and sharing health information (such as medications, test results, scans, or hospital discharge reports) can be improved. In fact, as you can no doubt testify from personal experience many clinical communications, such as referrals and prescriptions, are still paper based.

This is where eHealth steps in as it aims to introduce electronic services to improve upon some paper-based systems, and with the right protections in place, the electronic management of your health information has the potential to transform the way we do things now, by improving the quality and safety of our healthcare system.

The great news for us is that from July, all Australians can choose to register for an electronic health record. To do this you will need to go to, http://ehealthinfo.gov.au and click on the Learning Centre option. Here you will be able to find out about the benefits of having an eHealth record, how to get involved and best still – how to use the eHealth record system. (1), (2) & (3)

As you can appreciate, this is all new and as many first time parents have discovered over the years, that just like having a baby, there will no doubt be some initial teething issues as the system expands and grows in order to cope with the number of people expected to take advantage of this great facility. Indeed, we have already been informed that there will be a number of learning modules that will be released over the next few months to ensure that we all continue to be kept up to date and able to take advantage as new ground is broken in this venture.

Now, while this is all fine and dandy, having this great facility will count for little if we are not able to let others know that we have signed up for it.

This brings me to mention a great website,’ Where there is a Will’. This site provides the wherewithal to enable you to not only record your eHealth reference number but also to have it printed out on a Medical Card that you can copy out and place in your wallet or purse as well as leaving one in the glove box of your car and perhaps also with a trusted next door neighbour.

Indeed the site states that it is a valuable online service that allows you to confidently register details of where anything that you consider important is kept. For example, House Title Deeds, Insurance Policies, your Will, Enduring Power of Attorney, etc. As well, in addition to any documents there is provision to record individual health details including any medication that you may be currently taking. Likewise, you can also record detailed information for any pets that you may be caring for. In fact, everything that you record will be of assistance to your family or guardian in the event of an emergency occurring. (4)

I certainly don’t think that you can do better than that.

Graeme Brattle

References:

(1) Adapted from the website, http://ehealthinfo.gov.au/

(2) Article in the Gold Coast / Tweed seniors – June 2012 issue.

(3) Copy of said article as posted on FaceBook – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=3898833345211&set=a.3898833225208.169719.1110453692&type=1&theater

(4) http://www.wherethereisawill.com.au/index.php

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Being a Good Samaritan and being a good you – You can be both!

May 24th, 2012

The news that actor Dustin Hoffman saved the life of a jogging Australian lawyer who collapsed with a heart attack in London’s Hyde Park was the opening line in an article that appeared in last weeks edition of the Tweed Valley Weekly, a local newspaper whose distribution area covers part of the Gold Coast of Queensland Australia.

It appears that the two times Oscar winner and star of hit films such as Rain Man and Tootsie took on a real life Good Samaritan role when he came to the care of the collapsed Aussie and helped him until medics arrived and resuscitated him.

When he recovered the Aussie lawyer said that he didn’t remember seeing the Hollywood star who once played a grump who rescued people from a crashed plane in Accidental Hero, but that he certainly owed Dustin Hoffman his life.

The article then went on to say, but what if something had gone wrong, as in the past some people were concerned that if they saw an accident such as a car accident and stepped into help, they were open to being sued if they caused an injury while pulling the victim out of the car.

It was at this point I breathed a sigh of relief, for I was to discover that in numerous countries there is in their legal statutes one that for ease of terminology was commonly known as the Good Samaritan Law or as other nations call it, the duty to rescue law. (A) & (A1)

In fact, the Wikipedia free encyclopedia in part defines Good Samaritan laws as laws or acts protecting those who choose to serve and tend to others who are injured, ill, in peril, or otherwise incapacitated. They are intended to reduce bystanders’ hesitation to assist, for fear of being sued or prosecuted for unintentional injury or wrongful death.

Wikipedia also stated that the Good Samaritan laws take their name from a parable told by Jesus commonly referred to as the Parable of the Good Samaritan which is contained in Luke 10:25-37. It recounts the aid given by one traveler (from the area known as Samaria) to another traveler of a different religious and ethnic background who had been beaten and robbed by bandits. (B)

Now, while stepping in to help others in a time of their need is commendable, in fact I would stress that it is down right proper, I am also firmly of the believe that it is important that each one of us takes the necessary steps to ensure that should we be the victim of an incident, that we have already addressed the important matters of our lives and that we have a process in place to make the managing of our affairs simple and easy for others to both find and to handle.

This is where the website www.wherethereisawill.com.au, comes into play.

This site is a valuable online service that allows you to confidently register details of where anything that you consider important is kept. For example, House Title Deeds, Insurance Policies, your Will, Enduring Power of Attorney, etc.

In addition to any documents there is provision to record your health details including any medication that you may be currently taking. Likewise, you can also record detailed information for any pets that you may be caring for.

Everything that you record will be of assistance to your family or guardian in the event of an emergency occurring. (C)

So why not take the time now to check that you have everything sorted out, while you have the time available to do so, for as like the Australian lawyer discovered, a heart attack can take place at any time and also in any place, and often that place may be far from home, which can only add further frustration and inconvenience for all concerned.

Graeme Brattle
Resources:

(A – Article)

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150899858634242&set=a.10150574926254242.401690.341403194241&type=1&theater

(A1 – Source of the article)

http://www.stacklaw.com.au/web/page/Media_news_publications/news/2963

(B) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_Samaritan_law

(C) http://wherethereisawill.com.au

Estate Planning is not just for the rich and famous

May 21st, 2012

Hands up everyone who considers themselves an “average Jo”?

This could be a Joseph, or Joanne, or perhaps even a Jock, but regardless of our name, most us would no doubt consider ourselves well short of being able to be included in the “rich and famous” category.

That was all the incentive I needed to spur me on to read a really apt article today.

After reading it, my immediate reaction was to strongly recommend that everyone else should invest a few short minutes to read it too.

In the article, there was one paragraph that leapt right out and reinforced to me the importance of joining “Where There Is A Will” and that is to ensure that your documents are all findable.

“Set up a filing system that includes information on all of your assets and investments, insurance information, will, and other financial documents and make sure the person you named in your Durable Power of Attorney knows where these documents are kept.”

The full article was posted in About.com. Financial Planning (1) and covered in part such areas as:

. Write a Will

. Create a Durable Power of Attorney

. Consider setting up a Trust

. Consider giving gifts while you are alive

. Other tasks

And of course, to find us and to give yourself some great peace of mind,you only need to go to www.wherethereisawill.com.au (2)

Happy Willing folks!!!

Richard Paterson
Strategic Marketing and Promotions Manager

Resources

(1) http://financialplan.about.com/od/doityourself/a/EstatePlanning.htm

(2) http://www.wherethereisawill.com.au

National Law Week – Wills – Important to update – Know where kept!

May 13th, 2012

In the calendar of national events, here in Australia we celebrate National Law Week from the dates of 14-20 May.

The aim of the week is to encourage and build awareness and promotion of the law, the legal system and the legal profession with the theme of this year being Law and justice in your community.

As part of driving home this awareness a number of relatable articles have appeared in the press and here I would just like to mention two of them, ‘Time to update your will’ (1) and ‘When it’s crucial to find the will’ (2)

In the first article residents were encouraged to organise one of the most important legal documents anyone over the age of 18 should have, that being a will.

The main thrust of the article went on to say that if you passed away without a will, your estate, made up of items of sentimental and monetary value, may not be distributed according to your wishes, and you could leave your loved ones with unnecessary financial and legal headaches.

The article concluded with the line, “This Law Week we are encouraging all adults to put excuses aside and make the time to organise their will.”

It reminds me of the constant encouragement that we have had drilled into us by the electricity companies to change the batteries in our smoke detectors at the cessation of every daylight saving period. To get it into our heads to do it on a regular basis, without question or dissent.

The second article majored on the need to ensure that the current will could be located as and when needed.

Several anecdotal stories were featured, such as the one of the lady who had informed her children that her will was kept in the bedside table, but when she passed away, much to her relatives dismay it was not there.

Another one related to the father who had done the right thing and had given his children enduring power of attorney and had also made sure that the power of attorney was safe by having it locked away in a bank along with the will.

The problem only surfaced when the father lost his capacity and the bank refused to release the safe custody box until the family could produce the power of attorney, which of course they couldn’t as it was locked inside the box alongside the will.

A further situation was also mentioned, which on more than the odd occasion has caused anguish for surviving family members, related to a later will being discovered some time following probate being granted and the estate proceeds being disbursed.

We can boldly state that both articles reinforce the value of our site as being a great repository for the above information, for as we commented in a reply to the first article,

‘We could not agree more, but we believe that you need to go further and let those who need to know where your will and other important documents of your life are kept as well.

That is where our site www.wherethereisawill.com.au comes into play. (3)

To experience the value of our site we invite you to enjoy a 12 month free trial, just key the following words, Free Trial into our Promotions box on the Sign up Now page of the site.

Then sit back and relax, knowing that you have peace of mind in that you have done the right thing for both yourself and your loved ones’.

Now that the matter of having a will and ensuing that others know where it is located has been addressed, it would be amiss not to spend a moment to discuss some additional action to ensure that your will will also survive any legal challenges that may be mounted.

For your consideration we list the following eight points that you may wish to take into account.

(a) You need to keep in mind that one of the safest way to protect your wishes is to have a trusted solicitor draw it up and supervise the witnessing.

(b) You need to be sure that the wording is clear and legal for the state in which you reside, and that should you expect a challenge then consider adding suitable clauses to counteract it.

(c) You need to do your own homework and self check to be sure that you are deemed competent to make a will and that you are not under anyone’s influence.

(d) You should consider having the execution of your will recorded by some media advice, either audial or video.

(e) You need to reread your will slowly to ensure that it actually says what you require it to say, and that you understand and agree with every word in it.

(f) You need to ensure that you have appropriate witnesses available and that they are happy to have the witnessing recorded as per item (d).

(g) You need to make sure that the witnesses remain together during the entire signing and that you sign the document in front of them.

(h) You consider having the witnesses each complete a self proving affidavit. (4)

A final thought is to remember that your will is primarily about money and that experience shows that money tends to make people act in unexpected ways.

References:

(1) Article in the Liverpool City Champion, Wednesday May 9, ‘Time to update your will’

(2) Article in the Tweed Coast Sun, Thursday May 10, ‘When it’s crucial to find the will’

(3) www.wherethereisawill.com.au

(4) www.survivorshipatoz.org/cancer/articles/how-to-protect-your-will-against-challenges/

Friends in need – What great friends indeed!

May 6th, 2012

In an article titled, ‘Friends in need – paw-fect match for the lonely, disabled’ that appeared on page 31 of this weekend’s edition of The Courier Mail, the theme was that the anecdotal evidence provided by two interviewees provided first hand proof that animals in general are able to provide great comfort to and assist the facilitating of an individual to once again feel needed and worthwhile regardless of the current hand that life has dealt them. (1)

This same outcome was also promoted by Echo Wang in an Ezine article when he commented that having an animal to bring some life and laughter to a person in need often provides a great rewarding feeling. He then went on to say that  throughout life many times a person just needs to have a ‘pick me up’, as that while sometimes people may find themselves without family or friends handy to lean on it is here through having a pet to sit with or to talk too can just be the right medicine required to bring happiness to their eyes again. (2)

This got me thinking as to the value that the medical profession in general places on the use of pets in the recovery process of patients in their journey towards better health.

A quick Google search brought to my attention a short article that appeared in the internet world of seniors.gov.au, the over 50 site for Australian residents. This article stated that Pet Therapy, also known as Animal Assisted Therapy was the use of trained animals and their handlers to achieve specific physical, cognitive, social and emotional goals with people and patients requiring care and that either pet ownership or visiting therapeutic animals can have a range of benefits.

The article went on to say that pets may motivate and encourage the elderly to stay healthy, to exercise and to give them a feeling of being needed. It was also observed that motor skills can be improved or learned with the assistance of an animal trained for pet therapy, and that this can make a major difference in their comfort, progress and recovery. (3)

Turning to another source, this time from the Critical Care Nurse site, an October 2003 posting headed, ‘Family and Pet Visitation in the Critical care Unit’ the article stated in part that when an animal or pet visitation occurred with patients that the anecdotal evidence was great and that stories of people getting out of bed or moving or speaking for the first time when their pet or a therapy dog visited were numerous. It was acknowledged however that many of the benefits were hard to measure due to the subjective nature of each of them and that research is therefore quite difficult. However having said that, research already done has shown benefits of decreasing heart rate and blood pressure and increasing skin temperature, indicating relaxation from petting a companion dog.

Other studies suggest that people experiencing stress, either acutely or chronically, may benefit from short term interactions with their pet that serves to focus attention away from the stressor to a more pleasurable, calming interaction. The somewhat lengthy article concluded by observing that critical care nursing is more than just meeting the physical needs of the patient. Promoting interaction between critically ill patients and family members and/or pets provides a basis for psychological support interventions.  The beneficial effects documented in research are limited to the immediate impact. Actual benefits may be far more reaching for the patient, family, child, and even the nurse. (4)

A further article, ‘How animals help people – The healing power of pets’ under the sub heading, ‘ Animal Assisted Therapy with cats and dogs’ stated that we all know that dogs can become an invaluable companion for the blind and partially-sighted, and the ‘hearing dog’ for the hearing-impaired and deaf is also familiar. However, this is just the beginning of a long list of roles that animals can play in helping humans who are emotionally damaged or physically impaired in some way.

Here are some of the ways in which cats and dogs help humans in need:

Working with abused children and women — e.g. Katie the Golden Retriever is a ray of sunshine in the lives of residents of a domestic abuse shelter.

Helping to ease the fears of patients in hospitals — e.g. Maverick the Yellow Lab is a gently reassuring presence at the bedsides of stroke victims.

Being a friend to HIV/AIDS patients and giving them a positive focus — e.g. Pets Are Wonderful Support (PAWS) helps those with disabling illnesses to obtain the companionship a cat or dog can bring.

Forming a bond with children with autism — e.g. Clover, an animal shelter cat, became a patient and loving companion for a small autistic boy, and was the one member of the family he could relate to.

Comforting the elderly and working with Alzheimer’s patients, helping them to access emotions and memories. — e.g. Lilly, an orange-white long-haired cat, has brought great comfort in a time of pain and emotional distress to a terminally ill patient.

Then we should remember that the most famous nursing home cat is Oscar who is said to have predicted the deaths of many elderly patients. (5)

This then begged the question, ‘Well what is being done to help alleviate the current situation?’.

I am glad to report (and here I can only speak for Australia) that a non profit  organisation by the name of Delta Society Australia and having the motto of  ‘Helping dogs help people’  has seen their volunteers and their dogs visit over 500 hospitals, care facilities and schools across Australia every year. Before a volunteer and their dog can be accepted into the programme both must undertake some close examination. For the owners they will need to pass a police check while their dog must undergo a very intensive temperament testing.

The criteria for a dog to be included in the programme covers such areas as age, current vaccination shots,  good manners and above all else, be able to pass a number of reactions to such things as exuberant and clumsy petting, raised voices, staggering and gesturing, being bumped from behind, held by a stranger, crowded and petted in all situations that they are likely to encounter at some time during a visit.

A further test is also done on the level of understanding between the dog and the volunteer. The tests are said to be quite rigorous and that there are always some disappointment for owners whose dogs fail to ‘make it’. (6)

Lastly, and here I need to state that this is one where we have a personal interest, is our business site www.wherethereisawill.com.au, as situated within our site is a section that deals with pets and within that section it also allows the printing out of a ‘Pets Card’  enabling you as the owner to be able to store it in your wallet or purse for ease of identification etc, should a need arise. (7)

So there you have it. In a nutshell we believe that like all of the anecdotal evidence mentioned above, that animals, if given the right circumstances, can play an extremely important role in ensuing that our well being is maintained to the best for all concerned.  To this end we even encourage folk to join the FaceBook group site, ‘Pat Your Pet Day’ where we encourage animal lovers to share the love that they have for their pets with the rest of us. Should you so wish, we would love to welcome you as a member of that site. (8)

Resources:

(1) https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150813222034242&set=a.10150574926254242.401690.341403194241&type=1&theater

(2) http://ezinearticles.com/?How-Do-Animal-Assisted-Therapy-Pets-Help-Patients?&id=650989

(3) http://www.seniors.gov.au/internet/seniors/publishing.nsf/Content/Pet+therapy

(4) http://ccn.aacnjournals.org/content/23/5/62.full

(5) http://www.squidoo.com/pets-for-therapy

(6) http://www.deltasocietyaustralia.com.au/Volunteers/Become

(7) http://www.wherethereisawill.com.au