I often do homechecks for various rescues, ensuring the applicant for a dog is as good a match in person as they appear on paper. Homechecks involve meeting with the potential caregivers/new family, having a look around the home to watch for potential safety and comfort issues, as well as finding out where the dog will sleep and where she/he will stay when caregivers are tending to other matters. Homechecks also involve having a discussion about such things as food, exercise requirements, special needs, and appropriate training methods for the particular dog the family hopes to adopt.
Some people object to the lengthy application forms and inconvenient homecheck process imposed by responsible animal rescues. They'd rather just buy a puppymill dog from a petstore – no questions asked, no information exchanged. And some unethical breeders dispose of their pups just as carelessly – selling them to the first person to reply to their newspaper ad and bring the money to the breeder. No concern for what happens to that pup, no concern for the type of care it will receive.
Yesterday, my family received a call that a 'complex care' bed was finally available for my mom who has been on the health authority’s priority wait list for six months now. Under the rules for subsidized care, the bed must be accepted and the senior moved into it within 48 hours or the person is removed from the list for a month and forfeits their place at the top of the list.
This 48 hour rule is, of course, a challenge when the adult children don't live in the same community as mom's current seniors' residence. It is even more of a challenge when one sibling is out of the country, another on an island with animals to care for, and the third has just that morning left mom's to head back to her home on the other side of the mountains, five hours away.
And the facility with the available bed is neither one that was on our preferred list, nor even in the same communities as the ones we had targeted. In fact, we'd never heard of the facility. But the goddess smiled, and we were able to catch my sister before she crossed the mountains, and send her high-tailing it back to the coast to check out the place.
It may seem like I have digressed from my original topic, but it occurred to me this morning that there are parallels between checking out a complex care facility and doing a homecheck. In both cases, we are trying to find surrogate families and safe havens for sentient beings who have been displaced for reasons beyond their control.
If, as we animal lovers claim, animals are 'family members', then why would we not want to ensure that their placement is appropriate and they will be safe and well cared for? Why would we not want to meet the potential caregivers and see the dog's potential home? Why would we not want to be just as cautious in their placement as we are in placing our moms and dads into care facilities?
Just as the relevant BC ministry or health authority sets out standards of care that seniors’ care homes must meet or exceed, and develop guidelines and procedures to match people with places, so too rescue organizations develop standards, guidelines, and procedures. When I do a homecheck for a reputable rescue, I can be confident that the place and people I am going to see have already met some of the basic criteria set out by the rescue. My job is to ensure that the home will, in fact, be the right match for this particular dog.
And so with my mom, we take a certain amount as a given - that the facility the health authority is sending us to look at meets certain standards for care. But whether this is a right match for mom is up to us to determine by a 'homecheck'. And so my sister met with the potential caregivers, saw the room mom will have, checked out other aspects that would affect mom's quality of life such as issues of physical comfort, mental stimulation, and safety. And she talked with the caregivers to reassure herself that mom will always be treated with dignity and respect.
And much to our relief, it all checked out. Tomorrow my mom moves to her new facility and begins yet another chapter of her very, very long life.
Now……if only we can find the right match for a certain foster dog named Lucy. And, yes, a homecheck will be required.