Animal therapy, exercise and increasing technology use are among the successful strategies nursing home providers can use in order to decrease the feelings of loneliness among residents during the public health crisis, according to a new study. 

The strategies were among 12 low-cost methods identified by researchers to help providers overcome resident isolation woes caused by the pandemic. Other methods listed included implementing a gardening program, encouraging religious and cultural practices storytelling. 

Each of the methods was found to have helped increase social participation among residents and reduce social disengagement, which have been key concerns among providers. An October survey found that 64% of nursing home residents no longer left their rooms to socialize.

Investigators said the findings “underscore the social connection for the mental health of residents of long-term care homes.” 

“Published research conducted among LTC residents has linked good social connection to better mental health outcomes,” the researchers concluded.

“Although further research is needed, it does not obviate the need to act given the sudden and severe impact of COVID-19 on social connection in LTC residents,” they added. 

Full findings were published in the February issue of the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine.