A decade on from launching the award scheme, the RSPCA announced that Hanover had become the first national organisation to achieve its highly coveted Gold PawPrint award for safeguarding animal welfare across the country.
As the pressure to build higher density housing continues, so homes become smaller, impacting on pet ownership. Studies show that pet ownership has declined over the last 10 years due to the housing crisis. Many social landlords do not encourage pets, but Hanover takes a different approach, encompassing pet plans alongside care plans for elderly residents and considering the designs of future homes to make pet ownership possible.
Pet ownership is known to be beneficial to physical, social and psychological wellbeing among older people. Numerous studies have found that companion animals can lower blood pressure and help to regulate the heart rate during stressful situations, something which can lead to less reliance on the health system, reducing care costs.
Mark Lake, Director of Housing and Support at Hanover said:
‘Resident wellbeing is a top priority for us. For many years we’ve recognised that pets can provide great companionship and also give older people a greater sense of purpose, so it has been vitally important that we provide the right environment that allows that to happen.
‘Being so pet friendly is one of our key strengths and is something that attracts many older people to live on a Hanover estate. We know there are many benefits - individually and collectively - as a result of residents owning pets, so we are obviously delighted to be the first national organisation to be awarded the Gold standard.’
Rachel Williams, Senior Parliamentary Advisor, RSPCA added:
‘It's great to see Hanover achieving our prestigious Gold award. This is a real testament to the hard work of Hanover staff, their commitment to animal welfare and the health and happiness of their residents.’
Hanover also believes that looking after an animal can lower isolation for those who live alone. Such is the extremely pet friendly culture in place for residents, that nearly 50% of Hanover estates enjoy the benefits of pets. The variety housed across the country includes some 760 dogs, 538 cats and 130 birds.
In one case, residents at Hanover’s retirement housing estate in Bracknell became concerned about the welfare of an African Grey parrot called Jody when his owner passed away. After conversations with family members and the implementation of a Hanover pet care plan, Jody was adopted by another resident and still lives on the estate.
Elsewhere, in one of Hanover’s Bolton developments, a resident has adopted Oscar, a dog which was rescued from the streets. Oscar relied on scraps of food and scavenging in order to survive. Despite being injured and suffering from a misaligned spine, his trust in humans was unfaltering. Following a home suitability check, Oscar was placed with his new owner and the benefits are clear - an improved quality of life for both. The resident has seen a welcome improvement in her wellbeing, with a noticeable reduction in the isolation she had previously experienced and the impact of this on her overall happiness.
For 10 years, the RSPCA has sought to celebrate, promote and reward the work of housing providers and other bodies in a number of areas that improve animal welfare. This is the first time, however, that the world’s longest-serving animal welfare charity has awarded a national organisation a Gold award for going above and beyond in the services they provide.