Pets welcomed to Bernicia Living communal locations

I’m really pleased to announce that pets are now welcome at Bernicia Living communal locations.

Our new pet policy, which comes into force on 1 July 2024, allows tenants living in communal locations to apply to have a pet, including dogs and cats, in their home. An assessment of the application will then take place by a member of the team before permission is granted.

Many tenants have been keen to have pets for some time so we’ve spent the past 18 months looking at how we can make this work for everyone.

We’ve taken advice from the UK National Innovation Centre for Ageing and reviewed lots of studies about the impact of pet ownership – and the evidence is overwhelmingly positive. Harvard Medical School research shows that dog owners have lower blood pressure, healthier cholesterol levels and lower risk of heart disease than non-owners. There is also data to suggest that owning a pet for five years or more delays ageing in the brains of adults aged around 65.

Taking a dog for daily walks has massive health benefits, while being responsible for feeding and caring for a pet can provide a great sense of purpose. The companionship and comfort that pets give can also have a huge boost to overall well-being by reducing isolation and loneliness.

This is exactly what we want for our tenants as we’re all about supporting them to live healthy and independent lives in their homes.

We trialed the pet policy at Lynnholme Court and Alwinton Court by allowing new tenants to have pets. Tenants were asked to sign a pet contract, which set out their obligations for caring for their pet and the actions we’d take if they didn’t comply with those standards. We reviewed the applications individually to ensure each resident had the ability to care for and exercise their pet appropriately, and agreed strict rules about where the pet was allowed to go in the communal building.

Happily, the trial was a success. We received no complaints and actually got lots of positive feedback about how nice it was to see pets around.

The pet policy is the latest of many changes we’ve made to modernise Bernicia Living and make our locations suitable to the current and future needs of tenants aged 55 or over.

To discuss this new policy in more detail, please speak to a member of staff when they are onsite.

Paul White, Head of Service (Bernicia Living)