For me it’ll always be Poppy the Cairn Terrier. Even if you don’t have a pet of your own, most of us recognise the power that animals hold over us.

Poppy arrived at eight weeks old about a year after we got married, and as my husband Jonathan worked away from home a lot at that time, she was my constant companion and also a source of new friends as I bumped into fellow dog walkers in the new area where I was living.

In my visit to Orchard Court in Preston this week, I met several customers with much loved pets, and also heard about how our colleagues at the scheme ensure that responsible pet ownership addresses any concerns from those less keen on furry friends!

Two-thirds of older pet owners say they would be “devastated” if they had to give up their pet. Yet only 40 per cent of care homes claim to be pet friendly and, according to charity Blue Cross, even many of those have room for improvement.

So it’s great that Blue Cross have called on all care homes to have a clear pet policy in place. Anchor Head of Care Quality Rob Martin appeared on BBC Breakfast this week to talk about our pet policy and how we understand that pets provide companionship, comfort and love - and a way of making contact with others.

That comes through loud and clear in our Happy Living awards, where we’ve had some amazing animals shortlisted for the title of Best Pet. They include Archie the Springer Spaniel – nominated by residents at The Grange in Abbots Langley in Hertfordshire for the big impact he’s had on all their lives.

He’s one of several dogs and cats competing with a Guinea pig, a budgie and four giant rabbits. Stay tuned to our website to find out who clinches the title next month!

Our pet-friendly policy, developed in response to our customers, is just one example of how we ensure that we listen to them and act on what they say. Our new Customer Council and our approach to relatives and residents meetings will also play an important role.

I’ve talked in the past about our need for grip and pace – keeping a tight hold on the basics while moving swiftly to deliver change when it’s needed. Our #Instagran recruitment campaign (that’s my mum and me) is a good example of where we’ve embraced new ideas and technology to keep improving.

It’s not so long ago that no one had even heard of social media. Now, it’s an everyday part of life. And, in my case, it shows you can teach an old dog new tricks!

View all