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MAY 2022

FROM THE CEO

The end of April to early May has always been a reflective period for me: a spiritual framework between Easter, ANZAC day, the anniversary of my grandmother’s passing and my own day of birth.

One enduring notion I’m drawn back to time and again is of interconnectedness and the responsibility we each have to care for ourselves and others.

Our older Australians deserve a new kind of aged care – one that is built on a foundation of community, with a genuine respect and elevation of those like you who care for them.

At this time of intense change and reform, there is stronger acknowledgement of the importance of emotional, spiritual and social wellbeing.

Meaningful Ageing Australia is ready to support the newly formed Aged and Community Providers Association (ACCPA) - the new entity created by the merger of ACSA and LASA.

This will provide a unified voice and stronger representation to take our sector forward by placing older people at the heart of aged care.

THIS MONTH’S SPOTLIGHT

GUEST ARTICLE

Animals and humans: the emotions we share

By Dr Vicki Hutton

Dr Vicki Hutton received her PhD from Monash University in Applied Psychology. She is an Associate Professor working in Counselling Psychology and has an active interest in animal welfare and conservation. Dr Hutton is a published author in human-animal relationships, including 'My dog is the first one I talk to…' - Companion animals as 'therapeutic agents'.

The debate is over – animals do have feelings and they can experience emotions and pain. Different animals may not feel things in exactly the same way that humans do, but scientists in neuroscience, biology and ethology have provided mounting evidence that humans are not unique in their emotional lives.

Of course, anyone who has lived with a companion animal doesn’t need a group of scientists to confirm what they experience every day with their beloved friend! But it’s not just our furry or feathered friends.

Did you know that bees have distinct personalities, exhibit basic emotions and learn by observing others? (Chittka, 2022). Nile softshell turtles will bat around a ball or play tug-a-war with their carers (Burghardt, 2013), just like a dog. A mother octopus will stop eating in favour of looking after her eggs, chasing away predators and fanning the developing offspring with oxygen-rich water, before dying of exhaustion once the babies hatch (Wang & Ragsdale, 2018). And Nile crocodile mothers help their babies to hatch, carry them in their mouths to water, then lurk nearby for about three months in case their babies call for help – just like mother cows, or sheep, or humans (Benyus, 2014).

Every day we’re learning more and more about feelings and emotions in a range of species, not just our much loved and more familiar companion animals.

Biologist and ethologist Marc Bekoff summed this up well: “the more we study animals and the more we learn about ‘them’ and ‘us’, the more we discover there is no real dichotomy or non-negotiable gap between animals and humans, because humans are, of course, animals” (Bekoff, 2005, p.12).

This sentiment was formally ratified in 2012 when a prominent group of scientists signed the Cambridge Declaration of Consciousness, which affirmed that humans are not unique in possessing parts of the brain complex enough to support conscious experiences. A significant number of nonhuman animals including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, are sentient; that is, they feel what is happening to them and experience positive and negative states such as fear, play, anger, irritation, love, sadness, and grief (Birch et al., 2020).

Around two thirds of Australian homes include a companion animal (Hannink, 2020). They have captured our hearts and taught us about kindness, devotion, spirituality and what it means to love and be loved.

Read the full article here

ACSA CONFERENCE 2022: we were there!

Tips from Prime Super about budgeting

A budget puts you in control of your money. You understand what you have and where it goes. This month Prime Super talks about all things budgeting.

‘Successful budgeting requires time to really think through the money you have coming in, and how you spend it,’ explains Prime Super’s Member Solutions manager, Brian Coombe.

So, where to start? Find out more here.

Coming up …

WHAT OUR MEMBERS TELL US

“With the support of Meaningful Ageing Australia, there has been a greater sense of direction as to how to properly cater for residents’ spiritual needs as per national standards. This has led to greater staff confidence in their job
and a renewed sense of hope and purpose for residents.”

Is your organisation ready to become a member?

ABOUT US

Meaningful Ageing Australia is the national peak body for spiritual care and emotional wellbeing in the context of ageing.

Spirituality is about how we create meaning, hope, purpose and connection in our lives. It can be more than religion, but it certainly encompasses this expression of faith.

Meaning, hope, purpose, and connection are also at the heart of quality of life and quality of care for older people in residential and community aged care settings.

Meaningful Ageing Australia creates practical resources that support aged care organisations to build staff capability to integrate emotional support and spiritual care in their work. When staff are able to meet all the needs of the older people they care for, then organisations are better able to meet the expectations of community and the Aged Care Quality Standards.